January 26, 2005


Money, is it overrated?: Economic research focuses on what makes people happy (Martin Wolk, 12/20/04, MSNBC)

A growing body of research on the “economics of happiness” proposes that material wealth is overrated.

These controversial researchers do not say economic growth is undesirable, and they note that unemployed people are almost always unhappy.

But they say policy-makers should pay more attention to what people say about their satisfaction with life as they consider how far to go in the pursuit of unbridled growth.

“The problem we have found is that as (gross domestic product) has gone up, happiness doesn’t go up with it,” said David Blanchflower, a professor of economics at Dartmouth College.

One study by Blanchflower and an associate, based on interviews of 100,000 people over three decades, concludes that despite sharp improvements in living standards “the USA has, in aggregate, apparently become more miserable over the last quarter of a century.”

A critical factor in personal happiness appears to be marriage — or at least a monogamous sexual relationship. A widowed or divorced person would have to make an extra $100,000 a year to be as happy as a comparable married person, Blanchflower and co-author Andrew Oswald estimated.

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 26, 2005 6:40 PM

Hey, don't drag us into your, um, discussion with Dr. Judd about getting a job.

Posted by: David Cohen at January 26, 2005 7:01 PM

"A growing body of research on the economics of happiness proposes that material wealth is overrated."

"The more sex, the happier the person"

Thus we can conclude confidently that impoverished prostitutes are the happiest of us all.

Posted by: Peter B at January 26, 2005 8:36 PM


Weren't you listening to David? And I think of myself as a cabana boy, no a prostitute.

Posted by: oj at January 26, 2005 9:26 PM

Isn't the cabana closed this time of year?

Posted by: jim hamlen at January 26, 2005 10:32 PM

There's always dead skin to be pumiced...

Posted by: oj at January 27, 2005 7:16 AM

Can we call you an independent contractor and take the pumice stone as a tax deduction...

Posted by: The Wife at January 27, 2005 10:46 AM

Remember, we got auditted last year for claiming so many stones....

Posted by: oj at January 27, 2005 10:53 AM

Studies like this prove very little. It all depends what you value. For most of us, if we were worth $5 million, that 6th million would add very little to our total sum of happiness, but if we were down to $4 million we would be significantly unhappier.

Speaking for myself, I'm as greedy as any short Welsh herding dog but my real interest is in limiting the negative things that can happen to me rather than being carried around in a sedan chair all day. The more I can control my own environment, the more predictable I can make my life, the happier I'll be. That requires money.

I don't need to throw money around like an NBA power forward to be happy, quite the contrary.

Posted by: Bart at January 27, 2005 10:55 AM

No, it doesn't, it requires family.

Posted by: oj at January 27, 2005 11:05 AM