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01/10/2010

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Obadiah Shoher

Sorry, it's 2am here, I've misquoted. It's, "Who's a rich man," of course, but "rich" is understood in the ethical sense, so it is close to "happy."

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I haven't read the other comments, so forgive me if another reader brought it up:

Prof. Ronald Inglehart at the University of Michigan is director of the World Values Survey.

He and his colleagues propose that happiness is a relative psychological state, so increased income or improved welfare only causes an increase in happiness when there is (a) an improvement in the position of a select person or group as compared to the whole, or (b) widespread equality. Gini coefficient comparisons support the idea that nations of dramatically different prosperity can have similar measures of happiness when their citizens are "mostly" secure, poor, etc. Happiness also correlates with the recognition and preservation (and consciousness) of civil liberties, which I would say is well-connected to democratic, wealth-stable nations.

As much as professors drilled it into my head that it is inappropriate to use wikipedia as a go-to, here are a few helpful links:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Values_Survey
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ronald_Inglehart

http://www.amazon.com/Modernization-Cultural-Change-Democracy-Development/dp/0521609712

Randy

As was pointed out, places like the U.S., Japan, and the U.K. rank high in GDP, but are mediocre in "happiness." Perhaps their advanced workforces have hit a critical point with happiness as they encounter the increasingly steep promotion/income curves of their cutting-edge economies.

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While the marginal utility of income is decreasing, maybe the marginal (and perhaps dismal) labor required to increase income is far higher in advanced countries. Even if practically pointless, people - especially in richer nations - still strive to obtain a higher paycheck, often going to great lengths to do so.

As was pointed out, places like the U.S., Japan, and the U.K. rank high in GDP, but are mediocre in "happiness." Perhaps their advanced workforces have hit a critical point with happiness as they encounter the increasingly steep promotion/income curves of their cutting-edge economies.

My conjectures and generalizations could, however, be entirely wrong. The issue seems less related to economics and more to sociology, though there undeniably is at least a hint of positive monetary correlation with happiness. Did somebody say "scatter-plot?"

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Its right you say that one can not buy happiness with money.

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Happiness is a state of mind and it is up to us to decide. We all have the choice to be happy or not regardless of where we are on earth.

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The higher one gets, the less money one needs to be happy once the basics have been achieved. Americans are unhappy because they have been hoodwinked by the media and political indoctrination of what "success" or "happiness" mean which in large measure is unattainable, in particular for women.

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Most people, including most economists, do not regard per capita income or other measures of economic welfare (such as GDP, which is the market value of all goods and services sold in the United States, whether for consumption or investment, in the course of one year) as an end in itself, but as a contributor to human happiness broadly conceived. They expect the contribution to be positive, however. Most people devote much of their time to trying to increase their income, which suggests that income and welfare are positively correlated. I will question this expectation and this suggestion.

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Thanks for your comment. I liked my first one. It brought back the pain of finding out how unfair life and education can be.

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This sheds some light on the possible roots of your misogynistic tendencies Matt.

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