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Friday, June 15, 2007

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Arthur Eckart

In the U.S., undergraduate economics teaches a little about a lot, while graduate economics teaches a lot about a little. Perhaps, schools at the pre-college level should teach more subjects in less time (e.g. a subject each 30 minutes rather than each hour). So, a larger variety of subjects can be taken. Students can then better choose the subject they're most interested in. So, they'll be good at it, be happier, and the money will follow.

Amit

The western approach to happiness amuses people in the east. westerners seem to confuse happiness with pleasure of posession and immediate gratification from that posession. Ok, so you got what you are craving for and are happy for about 5 minutes. but wait - now you are 'unhappy' until you get the next thing you now want. the cycle of 'want' never ends and so happiness is forever fleeting and never 'found'. The economics resulting from this behavior is evident in numbers. In reality happiness is ONLY in self realization. No, I am not talking ivory tower Buddhism. I am talking about a sense of purpose, emotional belonging to a social network, clarity of thought about oneself, and self-confidence. ALL of these are founded in a good childhood - which in turn is a consequence of how your parents bring you up. But if parents are just chasing 'more = happy', where do you think the kids will end up? happy? i doubt.

James

Whilst I have not read the article in depth, I have to say the current interest in measuring 'happiness' seems rather absurd. Firstly, as previously pointed out how can one remedy for the inherent differences in people? Some people prefer quiet social time with friends when not at work, other people prefer challenging themselves and striving harder. The former may find the latter rather vile and certainly not happiness creating at all.

Secondly, how if the happiness of an individual to be finally measured? If an external measurement based on derived variables should be used, this is evidently going to be subjective. If a person is to use self reported measurements of happiness how reliable can such estimates be? Recently some meta analysis was carried out on a number of European wide surveys and one of the variables that tended to reduce reliability was questions about life in general (see Saris & Gallhofer, Survey Research Methods Vol 1, No 1, pp 29-43).

Would we not be perhaps better to teach children a broader range of subjects, perhaps just simply giving them a taster of other interests. The decision for the child will then be to pursue what interests THEM, also creating more rounded individuals which can perhaps have benefits for both the individual and society. It is difficult to go back and make a career change also in the light of evidence once the child is an adult…

Lafayette
J: Whilst I have not read the article in depth, I have to say the current interest in measuring 'happiness' seems rather absurd. Firstly, as previously pointed out how can one remedy for the inherent differences in people?

What makes you think that "measuring happiness" is intended to "remedy inherent differences"?

In a beauty content, is the queen chosen to show that the others are less than perfect? You will say, well, economics is not a beauty contest.

I will agree, it isn't. But, the intent of having a standard set of values against which to measure is not so far fetched. I have a particularly liking for Maslow's hierarchy of needs (that was developed a great many decades ago).

But, I have seen no serious effort to attach a measurement to the needs and thereby derive a "standard" or common yardstick. And yet, it would seem, to me, that such is possible. Not to make the world perfect, but for countries to understand where they can be doing better.

Or, is it the word "happiness" with all its connotations/denotations that bothers you? OK, then how about "contentment"?

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The economics resulting from this behavior is evident in numbers. In reality happiness is ONLY in self realization. No, I am not talking ivory tower Buddhism. I am talking about a sense of purpose, emotional belonging to a social network, clarity of thought about oneself, and self-confidence.

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Would we not be perhaps better to teach children a broader range of subjects, perhaps just simply giving them a taster of other interests. The decision for the child will then be to pursue what interests THEM, also creating more rounded individuals which can perhaps have benefits for both the individual and society. It is difficult to go back and make a career change also in the light of evidence once the child is an adult…

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