Sunday, November 01, 2009


The University of Bonn has shown that the pain of earning less than one's colleague is felt more keenly than the pleasure of earning more.

Bruno Frey, a researcher at Zurich University, calls this dulling process in regard to greater wealth "hedonic adaptation".

People rapidly adjust to increases in income

After about one year, two-thirds or more of the benefits of an increase in income wear off as people increase their income aspirations.

This process has become known as the aspirational treadmill

According to Frey, using happiness as an indicator of national progress is dangerous.

Governments will be tempted to distort responses to create a rosier picture, while respondents say be tempted to give less than honest answers.

When individuals become aware that the happiness level they report influences the behaviour of political actors, they have an incentive to misrepresent it.

They can play the system

The French report may also be looking at the wrong indicators

The ability of mothers to spend more time with their children may not be a key factor for some

No doubt Sarkozy's statisticians will come up with the figures he needs

Gender equality in terms of pay is one proposed indicator, and France does not do too badly there

There is a headline 20 per discrepancy in male-female remuneration, but when people of the same seniority and experience are compared, the differential falls to six per cent

Gerard Mermet, author of Francoscopie, a survey of French national life published every two years, backs Sarkozy

It is not possible to understand the world without qualitative indicators GDP is simply not sufficient

But what worries your average mec?

Unemployment – and growing inequality in wages

The French are also suspicious of the morality of big bosses, their big salaries

Suspicion of inequality is probably written in human nature but maybe a little more in French nature

His countrymen, he says, may adopt a morose attitude to the world at large but are sensible enough to recognise their own good fortune

If you ask the French, they always say France is not doing very well, but when you ask them about themselves individually, they are happy

The world is bad, France is bad but my own life is not bad

Sarkozy may get the answer he is looking for – but maybe not

John Stuart Mill warned: Ask yourself whether you are happy and you cease to
be so

An interesting idea ask yourself if you are happy and you cease to be so

So I will not ask you


Jacqueline said...

I am The Happiest Person I Know! Maybe because I never ask myself if I am happy.

It has nothing to do with income or is within me, actually bursting out most of the time. I am happy because I choose to be, regardless of my outer circumstances. You can choose to be, too.

Happiness is snuggled up in a quiet spot within you. You need only be still and quiet and allow it to unfold until it eventually engulfs you.

Live Life Happy!

Antony said...

Thank you, though sustaining this happiness when those outer circumstances are tough is a real challenge sometimes!