The Economics of Happiness: Building Genuine Wealth

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To determine whether our economy promotes the greatest good or the happiness of the American people, we need to understand what makes us happy and how economic policies enhance or thwart our pursuit of happiness; we also need a better instrument of economic measurement than the gross domestic product GDP. The GDP counts remedial and defensive expenditures for pollution, accidents, war, crime and sickness as positives, rather than deducting these costs. GDP also discounts the value of contributions such as natural resources and ecosystem services, improvement in quality of life, unpaid domestic work, volunteer work, good health and social connection.

All agree that a new indicator of well-being, such as the U. Happiness, and other researchers, has existed for more than a decade. The study of what makes people happy and life fulfilling repeatedly demonstrates that the economic route to happiness does not consist of endlessly widening the superhighway of accumulation. Rather, it resides in a host of personal values that are closer to our hearts, as illustrated by the Himalayan nation of Bhutan population: about , For many years, Bhutan has measured its general well-being—as the people themselves subjectively report it—using a Gross National Happiness GNH index.

Its government bases policy decisions on how they might effect the kind of happiness associated with contentment, family, community, spirituality, education, compatibility with nature and good physical health. Sixty-six countries backed it. Initial survey results, intended to spark conversations that matter, will be discussed at future town meetings in Seattle neighborhoods and used to recommend policies for consideration by the city council.

Repeating the survey every couple of years will reveal progress. Some colleges and universities also are beginning to apply the Happiness Initiative survey. To improve our own well-being within any economy, we need to attend to our security, social connections and the way we balance our time.

Choosing to live with less stuff and lighter debt supports a better life with less income but more time, lower stress and better health. As individuals, we can:. In cities, we can call for public and private spaces that facilitate social connection, instead of discouraging it via urban sprawl. In St. Petersburg, Florida, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, and other places, citizens are cultivating a stronger sense of community with real discussions about local issues and economic goals. They aim to arrive at a clear-eyed view of what citizens really want from the economy.

The grassroots organization advocates shopping locally and sustainably. The kind of society that makes for health, happiness, true prosperity and sustainability is one with strong local economies and flourishing communities that includes many activities provided by local nonprofits. We intuitively know what is required to create such a society, starting in our own community. What we need is the determination to make sure the economy serves us; rules that benefit all of the people; a commitment to widespread quality of life, social justice and sustainability; and the political will to make good change happen.

To overcome this criticism, Hou, Walsh, and Zhang proposed a new index called HDIF Human Development Index Flow , in which they replaced life expectancy at birth by the under-five mortality rate for a given year , and they also replaced the literacy rate by the gross primary school enrollment ratio for a given year. The development performance of poor countries improved using the HDIF while the performance of the wealthy countries declined. It is not measured directly, but only by means of the factors which are believed to lead to it. He commissioned three prominent economists, Joseph Stiglitz USA , Amartya Sen India , Jean-Paul Fitoussi France , to publish a report calling for a global "statistical system which goes beyond commercial activity to measure personal well-being.

The Well-Being Index score is an average of six sub-indexes which measure life evaluation, emotional health, work environment, physical health, healthy behaviors, and access to basic necessities. In October , the US scored They developed a shorter international version of the survey which has been used in their home region of Victoria BC as well as in Brazil.

The Pennocks also collaborated with Ura in the production of a policy lens which is used by the Bhutanese GNH Commission for anticipating the impact of policy initiatives upon the levels of GNH in Bhutan [79]. He argued that this proposed indicator "represents an important measure of the capacity of natural system to provide fundamental ecological services. Kennedy School of Government in Harvard University , recommended that "the Congress should prescribe the broad parameters of new, carefully designed supplemental national indicators; it should launch a bipartisan commission of experts to address unresolved methodological issues, and include alternative indicators.

The report list the Gross National Happiness Index and its seven measurement area as one of the main frameworks to consider. The information allows an objective comparison and assessment of both the problem and adequacy of the response in countries. The Satisfaction with Life Index is an attempt to show the average self-reported happiness in different nations. This is an example of a recent trend to use direct measures of happiness, such as surveys asking people how happy they are, as an alternative to traditional measures of policy success such as GDP or GNP.

Some studies suggest that happiness can be measured effectively. In , John Helliwell, Richard Layard and Jeffery Sachs compiled a treatise under the title "World Happiness report " to elaborate on the measurement of popular happiness in different countries thereby adding to the wealth of happiness data available while specifically discussing the issues of measurement, explanation and policy. Global and Regional Happiness Levels are explained in terms of 10 regional groupings of countries based on happiness data available for the year The happiness level is explained as a function of GDP per capita, social support, and healthy life expectancy, freedom to make life choices, generosity and perceptions of corruption.

There are also several examples of measures that includes self-reported happiness as one variable. Happy Life Years , a concept brought by Dutch sociologist Ruut Veenhoven, combines self-reported happiness with life expectancy. The Happy Planet Index combines it with life expectancy and ecological footprint. Several countries have already developed or are in the process of developing such an index. After the military coup of , Thailand also instituted an index. Australia , [] China , France [] and the United Kingdom [] are also coming up with indexes to measure national happiness.

North Korea itself came in second, behind 1 China. The CIW has adopted the following working definition of wellbeing: The presence of the highest possible quality of life in its full breadth of expression focused on but not necessarily exclusive to: good living standards, robust health, a sustainable environment, vital communities, an educated populace, balanced time use, high levels of democratic participation, and access to and participation in leisure and culture [].

Neoclassical , as well as classical economics , are not subsumed under the term happiness economics although the original goal was to increase the happiness of the people. Classical and neoclassical economics are stages in the development of welfare economics and are characterized by mathematical modeling. Happiness economics represents a radical break with this tradition.

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The measurement of subjective happiness respectively life satisfaction by means of survey research across nations and time in addition to objective measures like lifespan, wealth, security etc. Some have suggested that establishing happiness as a metric is only meant to serve political goals. Even on the individual level there is discussion on how much effect external forces can have on happiness.

Even when happiness can be affected by external sources, it has high hedonic adaptation , some specific events such as an increase in income, disability, unemployment, and loss bereavement only have short-term about a year effects on a person's overall happiness and after a while happiness may return to levels similar to unaffected peers. What has the most influence over happiness are internal factors such as genetics, personality traits, and internal locus of control.

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The genetic set point is assumed to be stable over time, fixed, and immune to influence or control. With such strong internal forces on happiness it is hard to have an effect on a person's happiness externally. This in turn lends itself back to the idea that establishing a happiness metric is only for political gain and has little other use.

To support this even further it is believed that a country aggregate level of SWB can account for more variance in government vote share than standard macroeconomic variables, such as income and employment. According to Bond and Lang the results are skewed due to the fact that the respondents have to "round" their true happiness to the scale of, e. This "rounding error" may cause a less happy group seem more happy, in the average.

This would not be the case if the happiness of both groups would be normally distributed with the same variance, but that is usually not the case, based on their results. For some not-implausible log-normal assumptions on the scale, typical results can be reversed to the opposite results. They also show that the "reporting function" seems to be different for different groups and even for the same individual at different times.

For example, when a person becomes disabled, they soon start to lower their threshold for a given answer e. That is, they give a higher answer than they would have given at the same happiness state before becoming disabled. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Part of a series on Economics Index Outline Category. History Branches Classification.

The Economics of Happiness: Building Genuine Wealth by Mark Anielski

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By application. Notable economists. Glossary of economics. See also: Happiness and Leisure. Prepublication copy. Blanchflower , Abstract-linked-footnotes version. Journal of Socio-Economics. European Economic Review. Frey and Alois Stutzer, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. New Scientist.

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