The most talked about wedding in recent times is now over. The Wall Street Journal estimates that as many as two billion people watched the proceedings. What is it about weddings that attract so many who are not directly involved?
Sociologists think weddings say something about how societies behave and evolve. Economists have tried to compute their benefits. For economist Andrew Oswald, a happy marriage is the equivalent of £70,000 (Rs52 lakh) of annual income in terms of happiness generated. But happiness has costs too— Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo write that even very poor families sometimes scrimp on food due to their spending on social events such as weddings.
Despite Britain’s cramped economic condition, most taxpayers seem to have lapped up this chance at some vicarious happiness. Their prime minister once said that general well-being was as important as gross domestic product. They should hope he was right.