Summary of The Hidden Wealth of Nations

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7 Overall

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6 Style


Trust, happiness and other forms of human capital constitute the “hidden wealth of nations.” This reciprocal, relationship-based “economy of regard” is a reservoir of unseen assets that parallels the transaction-based economy. Insights from behavioral economics and survey-based measurements of citizens’ satisfaction can help governments perform more effectively. British psychologist David Halpern’s verbose, disjointed writing style may obscure some of his insights on increasing society’s well-being, but his comments are fresh and interesting. While always politically neutral, getAbstract recommends his treatise to those interested in public service and inventive approaches to democratic governance.

In this summary, you will learn

  • What constitutes the “social capital” that makes an economy function,
  • How studying behavioral economics helps governments build on this relationship-based form of national wealth and
  • How a paternalistic state can encourage individuals to behave in a way that enriches society.

About the Author

British psychologist and civil servant David Halpern runs Behavioural Insights Limited, a company – initially launched as part of the UK government – that applies behavioral economic theory to improve public policy and make government more efficient.



Uncovering and Tapping “Hidden Wealth”
The “hidden wealth of nations” is, by definition, hard to see. It defies conventional monetary measurement, but its relationships and routines make society and the economy function. The hidden wealth of a nation derives from the spirit of its population...

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