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.


martywiese said...

I'd be very interested to find out where the U.S. rates on this scale. I bet we're waaay lower than we ought to be, considering how well-off the majority of our nation is in comparison to the rest of the world.

Still, I'm curious, how do they measure happiness? Is there some sort of unit of joy used? It seems an even flimsier concept than utility, which at least can kind of be measured by if the next unit is worth having or not...

JoelleBender said...

Ah, gotta love a good sweatshop. Just kidding.

This makes a lot of sense. Although, like Marty, I'd like to know exactly how the ratings work. I bet it's something like that quality of life thing we did in APES.

Could this be seen as ALMOST the same psychology that worked during the Depression? People were so desperate then that even the (normally) worst jobs sounded amazing because it was some form of payment.

JOSH said...

I agree with marty that the us may be low on this scale just because we are so spoiled and expect so much. I agree with this idea though of "happines economics" I think that, although they use up with fancy names and all this stuff, happiness is kinda what drives economics. Economy is all about what you are willing to do and give in order to get things in return that make you happy. one weighs the happiness given up and the happiness received and decides if that action will happen. And about the sweat shops, i thought i commented on something like this earlier or maybe read about it in naked economics, yeah that's what it was, the idea that sweat shops sound bad the us but over there that's what they have. No one is forcing them to work in the sweat shops, they choose to because to because that is the best job they can get. it's either that or not working at all, so they choose the sweat shops. compared to working in america it is brutal and harsh conditions, but, that is what they do there.