Public Policy - Rules that influence individuals’ pursuit of happiness. - What is (ideally) the goal of public policy? - maximize citizens’ well-being - ensure fair distribution of well-being - The Criterion Problem: - What is well-being? - What is fair?
A List Approach An individual with high well being … A. is healthy B. is ill A. is freeB. is unfree (imprisoned) A. is safeB. is threatened A.feels happyB. feels unhappy A. is educatedB. is uneducated A. is richB. is poor
What is well-being? -Objective definition: optimal functioning
What is well-being? - Subjective definition: Preference Realization The match between an individuals’ actual and ideal life.
Classic Welfare Economics - Paul Samuelson - 1970 Nobel laureate - Utility / Efficient Markets - Income - Opportunity to realize preferences - Limited to market goods and services
2008 Ranking of Nations (IMF Data) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_GDP_(PPP)_per_capita
Human Development Index - Amartya Sen - 1998 Nobel laureate - Capabilities - Human Development Index - Income - Health - Education
2007 Ranking of Nations http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_Development_Index
Subjective Indicators - Hadley Cantril - Public Opinion researcher - Cantril’s Ladder (1965) - Single-Rating 0 = worst possible life 10= best possible life
Subjective Indicators All things considered, how satisfied are you with your life as a whole these days? Please choose a number ranging from 1 = dissatisfied to 10 = satisfied. World Value Survey Results for Canada: 1982 7.84 19907.88 20007.80 20067.72
1990-2000 Ranking of Nations http://mappingglobalhappiness.wordpress.com/2008/11/01/res ults/happinessmap/
Well-Being and Wealth (PPP) Linear r =.83, log-function r =.82 Source. Schimmack (2007).
Summary - Convergent evidence from different well- being indicators (GDP, HDI, LS). - Wealthy nations have higher well-being than poor nations. - There is no cut-off point. - We are lucky to live in Canada.
Variation within Nations - Most results are based on data from other, yet similar countries (USA, Germany). - Results could be different in Canada.
"Americans who earn $50,000 per year are much happier than those who earn $10,000 per year," writes Gilbert, "but Americans who earn $5 million per year are not much happier than those who earn $100,000 per year." Lucas & Schimmack (2009)
How Happy are the Super-Wealthy? - Diener et al. (1985) - Mailed Happiness Survey to Individuals on Forbes 500 (N = 49) LS IQ m/cm f/cm Average 3.70 100 178 165 Forbes 4.77 115 185 172
Money and Well-Being Scientific Evidence - Wealthier individuals are happier - Money buys (some) happiness Policy Implications - Progressive taxes - Universal health care
Personality and Well-Being - Twin studies - Same genes, different lives - Similar well-being CBS Show “Giggle Twins”
Longitudinal Stability - Life satisfaction is quite stable over time. - About 50% of the variation among Canadians is influenced by personality dispositions. - Life satisfaction only partially reflects life- circumstances. Source. Schimmack et al. (in press).
Source. Knabe, A. & Raetzel, S. (2007). Quantifying the psychological costs of unemployment. FEMM Working Paper, 12, April 2007. Unemployment and Life-Satisfaction
Source. Diener, Lucas, Schimmack, & Helliwell (2009). Life Satisfaction of White and Black US Americans
Overall Conclusion - Subjective measure of well-being are important. - They often converge with objective indicators (wealth, unemployment, reduced prejudice). - They do not provide simple policy solutions. - They do not directly solve the problems of conflicting interests and sustainability.
Outlook - Better information = better choices = better life - Recognize and use diversity in preferences - Accept some inevitable unhappiness