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Happiness Accounts for Policy Use Ed Diener Ed Diener Smiley Distinguished Professor of Psychology, University of Illinois Senior Scientist The Gallup.

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Presentation on theme: "Happiness Accounts for Policy Use Ed Diener Ed Diener Smiley Distinguished Professor of Psychology, University of Illinois Senior Scientist The Gallup."— Presentation transcript:

1 Happiness Accounts for Policy Use Ed Diener Ed Diener Smiley Distinguished Professor of Psychology, University of Illinois Senior Scientist The Gallup Organization Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development Rome, Italy April 2 -3, 2007

2 Overview Subjective well-being can reveal the progress of societies And can be used as input to policy Will show why, and answer objections Show some examples of policy implications

3 Subjective Well-Being (SWB) Peoples evaluations of their lives – in both thoughts and feelings. For example: Life satisfaction Marital, work, & health satisfaction Pleasant emotions, e.g. Joy, affection Feelings of purpose and meaning Feelings of self-efficacy Etc.

4 A few predictors of SWB Good social relationships Progress toward long-term goals Trust in neighbors Stable and predictable society Basic needs met

5 Example: Gallup World Poll 2006 On the ladder below, where the bottom rung, 0, is the worst life you can imagine for yourself, and 10 is the best life you can imagine for yourself, where do you currently stand?

6 15 Highest on Ladder Income Rank (97) Denmark8.0 5 Finland7.712 Switzerland7.5 4 Netherlands7.5 7 Canada7.4 8 Norway7.4 3 Sweden7.413 Australia7.411 New Zealand7.322 Belgium7.3 9 United States7.2 1 Israel7.220 Venezuela7.253 Spain7.219 Ireland7.1 2

7 Lowest Life Ladder Income Rank Benin3.390 Cambodia3.673 Sierra Leone3.695 Tanzania3.797 Georgia3.769 Uganda3.785 Niger3.796 Ethiopia3.893 Burkina Faso3.887 Zimbabwe3.878 Cameroon3.977 Madagascar4.094 Kenya4.089 Mali4.091

8 Feel Cannot Afford Medical Care Japan 4 % UK 7 % Sweden 7 % Canada 8 % France11 % Spain11 % Italy14 % Jordan15 % Israel16 % Iran19 % USA20 % Turkey45 % Romania50 %

9 Cannot Afford Housing Finland 3 % Ireland 4 % United Kingdom 6 % Switzerland 8 % USA 8 % Denmark 9 % Germany10 % France11 % Spain13 % Belarus40 % Sierra Leone62 %

10 Optimism (0 – 10) – Future Ladder Zimbabwe4.0 Haiti5.1 Slovakia5.6 Afghanistan5.7 Portugal5.8 Poland6.3 Germany6.8 Spain7.3 France7.6 USA8.1 Ireland8.2 Denmark8.5 Venezuela8.5

11 Correlates of National Life Satisfaction Income.82 Longevity.73 Political stability.52 Trust other people.48 Unemployment-.44 Time with family/friends.41

12 Money is Not Enough Rising incomes, but not life satisfaction Factors such as Longevity predict Gallups life satisfaction ladder beyond income

13 Why SWB ? People rate it as very important, even the most important. They want it! Citizens evaluations, not those of elites Behavioral benefits of well-being

14 Objections 1.Happy people are ineffective and unmotivated, or worse yet, silly 2.People adapt to bad and good circumstances 2. Measures are baloney; must look at peoples behavior, not what they say 3. Happiness an individual matter 4. Other values are more important

15 BUT Is happiness good? Is it functional?


17 The Error of Flaubert To be stupid, selfish, and have good health are three requirements for happiness, though if stupidity is lacking, all is lost. Gustave Flaubert

18 Our Research Shows that Happiness is Beneficial Flaubert 180 degrees off

19 Happy college students later earn higher incomes

20 College Entry Cheerfulness, and Income 19 years later Diener, Nickerson, Lucas, & Sandvik (2002)

21 More Benefits of Being Happy More friends Better and longer marriages Social capital: Trust and volunteering Higher supervisor ratings at work Organizational citizenship behaviors Health

22 Longevity: The Nun Study Danner, Snowden, & Friesen, U Kentucky 1. Nuns autobiographies at age 22 Expression of positive emotions 2. Happy and less happy nuns living in same life circumstances through lifespan How long do they live?

23 Longevity in The Nun Study Survival Rate at Age:85 94 Most Cheerful Quartile90%54% Least Cheerful 34%11% Danner, Snowdon, & Friesen

24 My doctor asks me: Smoking (1 pack/day) Exercise Light drinking

25 Smoking (1 pack/day) Exercise Light drinking Heavy drinking

26 Smoking (1 pack/day) Exercise Light drinking Heavy drinking HAVE YOU THOUGHT ABOUT BECOMING A NUN??

27 Smoking (pack/day) Exercise Light drinking Heavy drinking Hey, Doc, what about: How happy are you? Very Happy vs. Less Happy years

28 Psychologists Happy live about 6 years longer

29 Being happy is beneficial to success BUT Being a happy person does NOT mean: Acting like an American; Being a 10 Not experiencing unpleasant emotions

30 Slow & Incomplete Adaptation to Unemployment (Mostly Re-Employed, and Controlling for Income)

31 Life Satisfaction & Disability: The Set-Point Seems to Change

32 OECD Nations Affect Balance (PA –NA) WomenMen Ireland New Zealand Sweden Netherlands Canada Denmark Australia Austria Mexico Norway Switzerland U.S.A U.K Finland WomenMen Japan Germany Belgium France Poland Spain Czech Rep S. Korea Italy Hungary Slovak Rep Greece Portugal Turkey.17.20

33 Adaptation to Marriage Lucas, Clark, Georgellis, & Diener

34 SWB Measures Correlate With: Suicide (individual and national) Physiological (brain, hormones, immune) Informant reports (family and friends) Interview ratings Reaction-time to stimuli tasks

35 Societal Policies? Pleasant EmotionsEnjoyment etc. Highest Lowest New Zealand 88 %Georgia 43 % Ireland88 %Pakistan 48 % Netherlands87 %Armenia 49 % Costa Rica87 %Palestine 50 % UK86 %Sierra L. 51 %

36 Other Values More Important? For example: survival, basic needs For example: capabilities & functionings Example: People happy for wrong reasons Response: Maybe, but so what? Dont want survival or functioning with unhappiness, or neutrality!

37 SWB relevant to more focused policy issues: Example: Prostitution Example: Commuting to work Example: School well-being check-ups

38 Life Satisfaction of Sex Workers Calcutta Low LS Detroit Extremely low LS

39 Commuting: Gallup World Poll Life Satisfaction Ladder 0 – 60 min/day – 120 min/day – 180 min/day – 240 min/day5.0

40 Conclusions SWB measures can complement existing econ and social measures for policy use You should be happy!



43 Predictors of National Life Satisfaction (Economist Intelligence Unit Study) Per capita income Life expectancy Job security Political stability Low divorce rate Political freedom and civil liberties Gender equality Multiple R =.92

44 SlowAdaptation to Widowhood

45 Importance Ratings (1-9) Happiness WealthHealth OVERALL (28 nations) USA Japan Chile Singapore Egypt Hong Kong China

46 Unpleasant Emotions Sad, Angry, Depressed, etc. HighestLowest ArmeniaDenmark PalestineSweden BoliviaAustria Sierra LeoneJapan Percent feelings lots yesterday ~ 40 % ~ 13 %

47 Dissatisfied with Standard of Living Ukraine Georgia Romania Russia Zimbabwe Most satisfied: Ireland

48 Diener Index of National Quality of Life (1995) Homicide rate Purchasing power Literacy Human rights Deforestation Physicians per capita Income equality AND Subjective Well-being

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