Polls / May 23, 2011

Do you think the state of the economy affects levels of happiness?

Respondents to the latest eZonomics poll are divided on whether the state of the economy affects levels of happiness. Overall, 58% say they think the economy does affect levels of happiness, while 42% think it does not.

I don’t feel so good…
History suggests there are close links between the state of the economy and the way people feel. The eZonomics story What is … consumer confidence? tells, for example, that surveys of the sentiment of the public have long been used to indicate what might happen in the economy in the future. Likewise, when times are economically tough, this might be shown in the consumer confidence figures.

Can we measure happiness?
For many years, gross domestic product – or GDP – has been used as a measure of the standard of living. But there is a lot of debate about introducing a wider range of happiness measures. A report by Nobel Prize winner Joseph Stiglitz, commissioned by French President Nicholas Sarkozy, is part of the discussions. A European Commission website Beyond GDP details an initiative to develop such indicators. The United Kingdom government last month started surveying people about their wellbeing and the OECD will tomorrow launch a Better Life Index that compares wellbeing based on factors associated with material living conditions and quality of life. Renowned magazine The Economist is this week running an online debate about whether new measures of economic and social progress are needed for the 21st century economy.

Let’s boost happiness ourselves
The eZonomics blog Gross National Happiness lists ways research suggests people can boost their own happiness. It tells how being employed can boost happiness – but that long commutes can limit it. Spending time with friends and family is also said to increase happy feelings. Likewise, a movement to make small life changes to increase happiness is gathering pace in the UK with the launch of the Action for Happiness charity and its 10 Keys to Happier Living.


eZonomics team
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