Not happier at all

Discussion in 'Chit Chat' started by grantyoung, May 10, 2007.

  1. I was surprised to learn as a student that there has been no rise in happiness since 1950s despite the rise in real income. Surveys done on this subject matter showed no rising trend in happiness.
    For example, the “general progress indicator” (, it reported that economic progress does not equate to rise in happiness. Increases in GDP as a measure does not imply progress. There are other criterions that should be included in measuring economic progress but are not used in the measure.
    Amartya Sen (Nobel 1998) mentions freedom, “non-market” activities (charity), equity (rich vs poor), risk (job security) and complexity (regulation) that should be accounted in the measurement.

    Other similar surveys includes the World Values Survey, Euro-Barometer Survey, Uni of Chicago … National Opinion Survey (Q: “ taken all together, would you say you are very happy, pretty happy, not too happy?” – cross sectional survey over 1972 to 1998). The common theme portrayed with these studies were the same, we are not getting happier as a society.

    The following possible reasons are as follows:

    1) The possible contributions to happiness are from the non-monetary aspect of an individual’s life. These includes: age, gender, health, democracy, uncertainty, martial status, education, etc…).

    2) Our expectations of happiness are constantly rising. We are consistently raising the bar with items that would consider making us happier (thanks to the works of advertisers). Joan Robinson pointed out that the price that people are willing to pay is the desire for the product, not the satisfaction that we derive from it.

    3) We are ranking happiness relative to others. The term “positional goods” is usually associated with high social status. Fred Hirsch used it to describe economic goods which are considered to possess a relative or social value rather than an absolute one.

    If anyone has anything else to add feel free to do so.
    As a little survey, are you very happy, pretty happy or not too happy?
    Me personally, I’m pretty happy.
  2. Interesting read. This made me think about why it’s possible for social democratic Scandinavia to have GDP at level with USA even though there is a lot less economic freedom.

    Because care for children and the elderly to a higher degree is institutionalized and paid for by tax money here (im from Norway) GDP is boosted. Also much of what is done by volunteer work in the US and thus not counted in GDP is most likely done by the welfare state here.

    When 70% of what is earned is paid back to the government money is held in a closed loop. We pay to regulate each other. Only 30% is available for consumption. No wonder we have a trade surplus.

    Of course the government does something useful but it’s really ironic that even though we pay 70% to the government we still have to pay for new roads with toll money. Of course it’s fair that only the user should pay, but realy!! This logic should be used a LOT more..

    For ur survey. Im happy but angry. Angry because government steals 70% of my energy without asking, and its not possible to have fun without feeding this monster that only grows and grows. Imagine buying a bottle of whine when only a fraction of the cost is the cost of production, the biggest share is fees (to make us drink less, or have less fun) and a 25% consumption tax on top of that.
  3. There's a lot research out there on the the hedonic treadmill, hedonic adaptation and so on. The field is still fairly new so the consensus is in flux but most people believe that individuals have a certain "set point" of happiness and that very little will change that set point. You get a big rise in salary, your set point twitches up but a few weeks later it's back down at your long-term stable point. Research suggests that marriage and religion tend to improve happiness (I know, I know...). A good primer is Jon Haidt's "The Happiness Hypothesis" which is a recent addition to the field but concise and readable.

  4. MingWu


    I am happier.. :D , but they didn't ask me !!! :)
  5. Happiness seems to be sliding into the shitter in this country. I find that funny having once been truly miserable and living a shitty consumer lifestyle.

    A few years ago I got out of the country, visited some 2nd world countries and noticed something funny: those poor people "SEEMED" much much happier than I had ever noticed Americans being. In Mexico street parties, family togetherness, and festivities bring smiles to really poor and despondent people's faces. In Eastern Europe people smile too and it's clear they have much less to smile about than most Americans living standard and wealth(fiscal)-wise.

    While I don't think money is the root of evil, it certainly has its side effects and I'd say most Americans are victims of such evils. Western Europeans, in general and in my opinion, value their lifestyles more than the money it takes to buy them and that makes them "seem" happier, I believe they truly are. Here it's almost the opposite, people value the money as something that will buy them something, but the problem is that whether they want that something or not, it's usually a short-lived thrill and quickly dissipates in the joy it brings.

    Americans are consumers through and through and I think that the need to buy, wherever that comes from, becomes a drain on people and makes them less intelligent honestly...there is a reason why typical Americans don't read books.

    Sorry for the rant but as an American it amazes me that Americans don't travel outside the country very much, don't read, don't care more about the world or environment, etc. It's fairly sad but all empires have their deterioration points and it just seems to me the US peaked, probably sometime after WWII(excluding civil rights at the time!) and might never be viewed in the world as such a beacon of light in the world again.
  6. tef8


    Fuck no! I'm not happy.
    Have a nice f'n day.

  7. I have seen the rest of the world, and think travel to foreign countries, especially second and third world countries, is highly overated. Most EU countries are fine to visit, but their women need to adopt the customs of american women, and shave those arm pits and legs! :)

    As for happiness....the American way is to want more, to achieve more, to be more, to earn more, and yes, to be more happy. This constant drive, assures us that we will never just be content, or happy with where we are. My take, it's not that we are unhappy, we just want more.

    Subjective evalutations about happiness aside, that attitude, that push, that drive, has pushed our society to ever increasing levels of GDP, productivity, wealth, etc.
  8. Most people in this country are in debt up to their eyeballs. People want more in this country because they are brainwashed by constant advertising into thinking that they need more, when in reality they don't. If everyone would turn off their TV's for a year, I bet that their frivolous spending would decline. This country has so many overweight people because they eat tons of junk food and get no exercise. They figure who needs exercise when I have a 60 inch TV with 200 channels, and then they get bombarded with more advertising. Of course the drug makers and doctors are happy with the poor health, since it increases their revenues.
  9. maxpi


    Yup. Our television has been off for a year or two, I've been taking omega3 supplements for about 6 months and other supplements for a few years, got fired from the shitty job I hated, got trading almost under way, I'm "religious" and married and I walk a mile or two a day for exercise, lift weights a little. I'm pretty happy since I can see the end of debt coming soon too.

    Debt, television, lack of family and community fun, shitty food, lack of exercise........ no way Americans can be very happy, not to mention the shitty way employers treat workers. That may be a large part of the unhappiness problem really. I worked for a German Corporation for a long time... happiest period of my life, happier than the current retirement really.
  10. " they say that money can't buy happiness....well take a look at my fucking face''''ear to ear baby":D :D :D
    #10     May 11, 2007