close

Вход

Забыли?

вход по аккаунту

?

Happiness (and how to measure it)

код для вставки
Happiness(andhow to measureit)
Capitalism can ma-kea society rich and keep it free. Don't ask it to make you
happy as well
grown
at
an annual grabthem dependson how much your rivals areputting in.
L[AVING
per head since
I lrate of 3.zo/o
Someeconomiststhink the resultscastdoubt on th;longzooo, the world economy is held verities of their discipline.The dismal
sciencetraditioi_
over half way towards notching ally assumesthat people know their
own interests,and are
up its best decade ever. If ii best left to mind their own business.How
much they work,
keeps going at rhis clip, it will
and what they buy, is their own affair. A properly brought_up
beatboth the supposedlyidyllic economistseeksto explain their decisions,
not to quurrJl*iti,
:
r95os and the r96os. Market them. But the new happinessgurus
are much lesswilling to
capitalism,the eneinethat runs most of the world economv. deferto people's
choices.
seemsto be doingitsjob well.
Take work, for instance.In 1930 John Maynard Keynes
But is it? Onceupon a time, thatjob was generallyagreedto imagined
that richer societieswould become more leisured
.
be to make people betteroff. Nowadaysthit's not so clear.A ones, liberated
from toil to enjoy the finer things in life. yet
number of economists,in searchof big problemsto solve,and most people
still put in a decentshift.Thevwork liard to afford
politicians,looking for bold promiseilo make, think that it things
they think will make them happy, orrly to discoverthe
ought to be doing somethingelse:making peoplehappy.
fruits of their labour sour quickly.rhey also ispire to a higher
The view that economics should bi- ab-outmore than placein
society'speckingorder,but inio doine forceotheisin
money is widely held in continentalEurope.In debateswith
the rat raceto run fasterto keepup. So eu.ryorr-.los.s.
An glo-Am erican capitalists,wily b onsyit antshave ten ded to
Yetit is not self-evidentthat lesswork would mean more
cite the idea of "quality of life,' to excuseslower economic happiness.
In America, when the working week has shortgrowth. But now David Cameron,the latestleaderof Britain,s ened,
the gaphasbeenfilled by assiduousrv-watchins. As for
oncerathermaterialisticConservativeparty,has espousedthe well-being,
other studiesshow that elderly people wto stop
notion of "generalwell-being" (cws) as an alternativeto the workingtendto
die soonerthantheirpeerjwho labour on.lnmore traditional cpp. In America, meanwhile, inequality, deed, another
side of happiness eionomics busies itself
over-work and other hidden costsof prosperity -ere *uch
studying the non-monetaryrewardsfrom work: most people
discussedin the mid-term elections;and iwellness" (as op- enjoy parts
of their work, and somepeoplelove it.
posed to health) has become a huge industry, cateringespe_
As for capitalism'swastefulmaterialism,evenAdam Smith
cially to the prosperousdiscontentof the baby-ooomers.
had aproblemwith it.,,Howmanypeople ruin themselvesby
laying out money on trinkets of fiivoious utilitv?', he com_
The things you never knew you wanted
plained.It is hard to claim that pyramid-shapediea-bags(de_
Much of this drawson the upstartscienceof happiness,which veloped great
at
expenseoverfour years)have addedmuch to
mixes psychologywith economics(seepageli. tts adherents the sum
of human happiness.yetifcapitalism sometimesperstartwith copioussurvey data,suchasthosederivedfrom the suadespeople
to buy stuffthey onlyimagine theywant, itilso
simple,folksy questionput to thousandsof Americanseverv appeals
to tastesand aptitudesthey never knew they had. In
yearor two sincetgTz:',Taken
all together,how would you,ay
the arts,this is called ,,originality',and is venerated.In com_
thingsarethesedays-would you siy that you arevery happy, merceit
is called"novelty" and too often dismissed.But withpretty happy or not too happy?" Someof the resultsai. u"rur_ out
the urgefor material improvement,people would still be
prising:the rich report being happier than do the poor. But a wearing
woollen underwear and holidaying in Bognorrather
paradoxemergesthat requiresexplanation:affluentcountrles than
Bhutan.Would that be so great?
have not got much happier as thiy have grown richer. From
America toJapan,figuresfor well-beinghave barelybudged.
Thejoys of niche capitalism
The scienceof happinessofferstwo explanationsfor the If growth
of this kind doesnot makepeoplehappy, stagnation
paradox.Capitalism,it notes,is adept at tuining luxuries into will
hardly do the triclc ossified socieiiesguira poiitionat
necessities-bringingto the masseswhat the elites have al_ goodsmore,
not less,jealously.A flourishingeconomy,on the
ways enjoyed.But the flip side of this genius is that people other hand,
createswhat biologistscall ,,alangled bank" of
come to take for granted things they once coveted from aiar. niches,with no
clearhierarchybetween them. fyler Cowen,
Frills they never thought they could have become essentials of GeorgeMason
University, points out that America has
that they cannotdo without. peoplearestuckon a treadmill:as more than
3,ooohalls of fame,honouring everyonefrom rock
they achieveabetter standardof living, theybecomeinuredto starsand sportsmen
to dog mushers,pickle-packersand acits pleasures.
countants.In sucha society,everyonecanhope to cometop of
Capitalism'sability to takethings downmarket also has its his particular monkey
troop, even as the people he lobks
limits._Manyof the things people most prize-such as the top down on
count themselvestop of a subtly differenttroop.
jobs, the best education,or an exclusivl home address=are
To find the market system wanting becauseit does not
Iuxuries by necessity.An elite schooling,for example,ceases bringjoy
aswell asgrowth is to placetoo heavy a burden on it.
to be so if it is provided to everyone.Theie ,,positionalgoods", Capitalism
can make you well off. And it alsoleavesvou free
asthey are called,arein fixed supply: you can enjoy thjm only to be as unhappy
as you choose.To ask anv more of ii would
if othersdo not. The amount of money and efforirequired to be askingtoo
much. r
Документ
Категория
Без категории
Просмотров
3
Размер файла
1 455 Кб
Теги
1/--страниц
Пожаловаться на содержимое документа