Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
Display:
By changing the focus from the material to the emotional there is a possibility that the goals that society sets for itself could be transformed as well. We also need to realize that those who don't have an adequate standard of living to enable health, food and shelter must be dealt with using a different set of rules at present.

In other words, once society has obtained a minimum (i.e. "adequate") level of material affluence, we should look at changing the emphasis of our society from the material to the emotional, and -- implicitly -- regard the successfulness of our society more in relation to emotional health rather than material wealth.  Is that right?

As to the single number, whether this gets overused or not is not under our control. The news is filled with the new Dow Jones Index level. I've heard three interview with stock traders who said that they don't pay any attention to it as it is not representative on any important economic indicators. After just having said that the reporter then goes on to ask about its "meaning".

Should we stop pursuing new economic measures just because the press is ignorant?

Not sure if I am following here.

By "new economic measures", do you mean "economic measures" that put more emphasis on "emotional" (rather than "material") well-being?

In any case, I would say that we should find some indicator that does gives primary importance to emotional/psychological/social well-being and/or human capabilities, and then let the "ignorant press" have at it.

The challenge of course will be how to get the mainstream media to drop GDP/DJI/etc. in favor of HDI/HCI ("Human Capabilities Index"?)/etc.

In the mean time, we may not have a perfect "happiness/negative suffering  index yet", but when fast rising economic and political world giants make rumblings about measuring other things besides just GDP, shouldn't we take note and try work with that as a basis for moving further in that direction?

Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.

by marco on Fri Oct 20th, 2006 at 11:42:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The Chinese measures are all material in nature and are being used as a proxy for measuring happiness.

For example, studies have shown that one someone suffers a catastrophic event (say becoming paralyzed in an auto accident) their happiness goes down, but after some time, as they adapt their happiness tends to return to its prior level.

There are actual studies ranging over many years and countries where people are just asked how happy they are. Since it is a subjective thing why use proxies?

Policies not Politics
---- Daily Landscape

by rdf (robert.feinman@gmail.com) on Fri Oct 20th, 2006 at 12:37:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Chinese measures are all material in nature and are being used as a proxy for measuring happiness.

You have to be wary of distortions in translation and the fact that this is Chinese government rhetoric, but on the face of it, the Chinese measures in fact do seem to encompass non-material dimensions:

enhanced ideological and moral qualities, scientific and cultural qualities and health status of the whole nation; further progress in fostering a sound moral atmosphere and harmonious interpersonal relationships; enhanced creativity of society as a whole and the development of an innovation-based nation...

China View: "China publishes resolution on building harmonious society"

Again, we have to take such rhetoric and political initiatives with a few bags of salt, but just the fact that they are prominently mentioning such factors as "harmonious interpersonal relationships", "enhanced creativity", etc. in the context of "evaluating social states in terms of human welfare", isn't that encouraging, and should it not be encouraged?

There are actual studies ranging over many years and countries where people are just asked how happy they are. Since it is a subjective thing why use proxies?

I have not read it yet, but I heard a radio interview of Daniel Gilbert who was talking about his book Stumbling on Happiness in which he discusses those studies.  Are there any other studies you could point to, and are those studies designed to be sensitive to cultural and linguistic differences across societies?

Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.

by marco on Fri Oct 20th, 2006 at 08:52:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]

Display:

Occasional Series