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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
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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
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