Monday, May 26, 2008

Happiness Economics

I could not think of a great topic this week so I thought I'd do a little research on some more weird economic departments.
I came across "Happiness economics." This field analyzes the well-being of a country using both economics and psychology. At first, I thought this sounded a little ridiculous. But as I thought about it more, this seems to make sense. A lot of connections can be made between economics and psych. Both involve people make choices; one field analyzes the outcomes while the other analyzes the reasons for the choice made.
Happiness economics has also become of interest regarding the measurement of a country's well being beyond GDP and GNP. Some nations with lower GDP may also have a lower standard of living, thus their individual happiness is about the same, or even higher than that of countries with very high GDPs.
Though maybe not completely fair, some people use this argument to show possible benefits of sweatshops. Compared to workers compensation in the US, this is slave labor. However, many sweatshops in India are set up to give jobs to women abused in marriage assaults or burnings. Their individual happiness with their jobs is high, though many in the US would look at their jobs and see a very grim picture. I'm not saying this justifies slave labor, it's merely another way to look at it.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Housing crisis

We've been hearing a lot all over the news and especially with the upcoming presidential election about the housing crisis our country is experiencing. I've done quite a bit of research about the issue, but was the reality of it was brought much closer to home just this past weekend.

There is a huge discrepancy in house prices depending on what part of the country you live in. I have a brother in Detroit, a sister currently in New York and moving to Madison, and a brother who just moved to Houston.

My oldest brother, who recently moved from Kansas City to Detroit did not personally have trouble selling his house as his work bought it for him. Detroit was recently named one of the best places to buy a home as they are cheap and are not likely to fluctuate much in prices. His house sold in KC for $180,000 and his new house cost around $200,000. My sister moved last year from Atlanta (also named one of the best cities to buy in) to New York. Her apartment there runs about $2000 per month! She is currently looking in Madison near the University. My oldest brother just moved to Houston. For a five bedroom, three and a half bathroom house with a pool in Sugarland it will cost him $288,000, without the pool is $233,000. This is about the same price as my sister's two-bedroom in madison.

Does this price discrepancy have to do with demand for the houses or more the prosperity of the local economies in Houston vs. Madison?