Money won’t give hap­pi­ness in long run

The Free Press Journal - - ETCETERA -

Non-ma­te­rial fac­tors such as so­cial sup­ports, free­doms, and fair­ness may play a big­ger role than money in fu­ture well-be­ing and hap­pi­ness, ac­cord­ing to new re­search. The work draws on global well-be­ing sur­veys over the past decade to project po­ten­tial lev­els of world hap­pi­ness in 2050. It sug­gests that, to im­prove people’s well-be­ing as much as pos­si­ble in com­ing decades, pol­i­cy­mak­ers should look be­yond nar­row eco­nomic cal­cu­la­tions and pri­or­i­tize non-ma­te­rial fac­tors when mak­ing big de­ci­sions.

“Long-run poli­cies that are overly fo­cused on eco­nomic growth will have lim­ited ef­fects on well-be­ing,” says lead au­thor Christo­pher Bar­ring­ton-Leigh, an as­so­ciate pro­fes­sor at the In­sti­tute for Health and So­cial Pol­icy and the School of En­vi­ron­ment at McGill Uni­ver­sity. “If hu­man well-be­ing is the main goal of gov­ern­ments, their re­sources would be more wisely spent based on what re­ally matters most for hu­man ex­pe­ri­ence.”

The re­searchers de­signed a sta­tis­ti­cal model that com­bines two sets of mea­sures: Ob­jec­tive ma­te­rial in­di­ca­tors, in­clud­ing GDP per capita and life ex­pectancy; So­cial in­di­ca­tors, as mea­sured in the an­nual Gallup World Poll of re­cent years; these in­clude free­dom to choose what to do with one’s life, per­ceived lev­els of govern­ment and busi­ness cor­rup­tion, preva­lence of do­nat­ing, and avail­abil­ity of in­for­mal so­cial sup­ports. The global sur­vey data show that, on a scale of zero to 10, re­spon­dents on av­er­age rated their own well-be­ing at 5.24 in 2016. The re­searchers used ob­served changes in the data from 2005 to 2016 to project sce­nar­ios for self-re­ported life eval­u­a­tions in 2050.

The re­sults show that fu­ture changes in ma­te­rial vari­ables, as the OECD projects, are likely to yield mod­est im­prove­ments in global av­er­age life eval­u­a­tions — an in­crease of zero to 10 per­cent above cur­rent lev­els. (The OECD pro­jec­tions use two global eco­nomic sce­nar­ios, de­vised to ex­plore pos­si­ble fu­tures for ma­jor en­vi­ron­men­tal chal­lenges in­clud­ing cli­mate change.)

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