Hasta la victoria siempre

Monday, July 28, 2008

Mancand mai putin, traim mai mult


Pentru multi, imbogatirea poate constitui, printre altele, oportunitatea de a avea mese imbelsugate si de a se infrupta pe saturate. Iata insa ca noi si noi studii demonstreaza faptul ca nu mesele copioase, ci cele modeste si drastic reduse, sunt cele mai sanatoase si care ne pot spori longevitatea.
Conform unei stiri USNews, publicata la 14 iulie 2008,

"Cutting just 300 calories a day slows metabolism, tissue failure, study says.
Studies have long shown that reducing calorie intake slows the aging process in rats and mice. A popular theory is that fewer daily calories decreases production of the thyroid hormone triiodothyronine (T3), which then slows metabolism and tissue aging.

A new study, by Saint Louis University researchers, found this hormone decrease occurs when humans regularly skip rich desserts or substitute a turkey sandwich for a Big Mac and fries every day.
"Our research provides evidence that calorie restriction does work in humans like it has been shown to work in animals," study lead author Edward Weiss, associate professor of nutrition and dietetics at Saint Louis University's Doisy College of Health Sciences, said in a prepared statement. "The next step is to determine if this in fact slows age-related tissue deterioration. The only way to be certain, though, is to do a long-term study."
The findings, published in the June 2008 issue of Rejuvenation Research, are based on a study of healthy but sedentary, non-smoking, 50- to 60-year-old men and post-menopausal women. For a year, the volunteers participated in either: a calorie-restriction group that cut their daily calorie intake by 300 to 500 calories per day; a group that stayed on their regular diet and exercised regularly; or a group that maintained its normal routine.
While those in the calorie-restriction and exercise groups both lost body fat mass, only those in the calorie restriction group also had lower levels of the thyroid hormone.
Although a long-term study is still needed to determine if reducing T3 levels through calorie restriction does indeed slow the aging process, Weiss said cutting back on calories is a good idea.
"There is plenty of evidence the calorie restriction can reduce your risks for many common diseases including cancer, diabetes and heart disease," Weiss said. "And you may live to be substantially older."

Articolul, intitulat "Eating Less May Slow Aging Process", poate fi gasit la: http://health.usnews.com/articles/health/healthday/2008/07/14/eating-less-may-slow-aging-process.html

Despre studiul in cauza s-a relatat si in publicatiile romanesti: "Cercetatorii au descoperit ca ne putem prelungi viata cu cinci ani daca reducem portiile alimentare din farfurie treptat, incepand de la 25 de ani.
Specialistii spun ca trebuie sa incepem prin adoptarea unui regim alimentar moderat, pentru ca odata cu trecerea timpului sa reducem si cantitatea de alimente din farfurie, scrie Gandul.
Studii recente arata ca odata cu taierea caloriilor reducem rata metabolica, iar organismul va genera mai putin radicali liberi si va consuma mai putina energie. In plus, se pare ca mesele scurte ajuta la eliminarea unui hormon tiroidian, care incetineste metabolismul si imbatranirea celulara.
In cadrul cercetarii, expertii au observat ca persoanele care reduc numarul caloriilor si cele care fac miscare inregistreaza aceeasi scadere a procentului de grasime din organism, dar numai cei din prima categorie sufera schimbari hormonale pozitive. In plus, s-a demonstrat ca portiile mici de mancare contribuie si la un psihic mai bun."
http://www.ziare.com/Daca_mananci_mai_putin__traiesti_mai_mult_-364148.html

Cu atat mai putine motive avem deci pentru a ne imbogatii: nu lacomia culinara, ci retinerea si moderatia, este calea buna de urmat. In lumina unor astfel de studii, devine tot mai clar ca o oranduire sociala sanatoasa este cea in care nu este permisa acumularea de hrana peste nevoile elementare, de viata echilibrata a organismului, ci una preocupata primordial de asigurarea hranei in cantitati modeste tuturor cetatenilor.

Virusul consumerist, promovat de capitalism

In articolul sau "Television, Materialism and Culture: An Exploration of Imported Media and its Implications for GNH", publicat in Journal of Bhutan Studies, (2004) Vol: 11 Winter '04, profesorul de economie la Auckland University din Noua Zeelenda, Ross Mcdonald, explica faptul ca sistemul capitalism are nevoie de consumerism pentru a supravietui si a se extinde si dezvaluie implicatiile negative pe care aceasta manie materialista le are asupra mediului si indivizilor.
Sa-l urmarim punct cu punct:

Capitalismul are nevoie de consumerism:
"The historical expansion of capitalism has necessitated a balance between maximising the means of producing commodities and maximising the capacity to absorb that production through greater consumption. Via a complex interplay of human, physical and virtual technologies, the capacity to expand production has proved to be immense, meaning that now most segments of the global market are
saturated by over-production. In the last half-century the central question for capitalism has become not how to produce goods, but how to distinguish and dispose of them once produced.
The solution has come in the form of techniques of mass persuasion, technologies forged to stimulate demand and drive consumption – in short, commercial advertising. We now occupy a world dominated by the symbols, brands and suggestions of advertising. [...]

Ideologically, the ethical defence of free market capitalism rests upon claims of uncontaminated ‘consumer sovereignty’. In this framework, the consumer is the ultimate authority as they are uniquely qualified to make the most rational decisions as to what their needs are and how they might best be met. The ethical role of business then, is one of pure service to society as it works to deliver ever more efficient means for meeting genuine public needs. However, with the introduction of associative advertising, business violates this arrangement by actively cultivating the needs its aims to satisfy. The famous economist J.K. Galbraith (1958) calls this the Dependence Effect and notes "The direct link between production and wants is provided by the institutions of advertising and salesmanship. . . These cannot be reconciled with the notion of independently
determined desires for their central function is to create desires – to bring into being wants that previously did not exist. (in Hoffman and Moore, 1984: p. 441).""

Altfel spus, capitalismul a dat nastere unui surplus important de productie. Cum pot insa detinatorii mijloacelor de productie, capitalistii, sa valorifice acest surplus? Creand false nevoi in randul populatiei, prin advertising.

Pe scurt:
"The consumer is the necessary ideal of capitalism - a type convinced that well-being necessitates accumulating ever greater volumes of goods. [...] A capitalist system aims to render the market and those who control it, free from all forms of constraint. To maximise its potential, capitalism must achieve the submission of any ideological forms that act to impede its cultivation of consumption. In this important sense, any cultural form promoting material restraint is perceived to be a barrier to “progress”. Liberation from such cultural confines requires removing the mass from traditional referents and authorities – a function that television achieves with remarkable finesse."

Televizorul, unealta capitalista si venin anti-social
Prtin intermediul televiziunii, capitalul isi promoveaza pe scara larga tendintele materialiste. Odata cu acestea, viata sociala se atrofiaza si mania materialista creste.

"The most obvious power of television in modern society relates to its ability to capture and retain attention. In effect, television removes the viewer’s consciousness from the immediate social and physical environment - and often for highly extended periods of time. When television is on, social interaction is curtailed. Conversation becomes fractious and partial, even superficial when it comes to cohere around referents to what is being viewed. For whatever time viewers’ attention is captured by the small screen they forgo the verbal interaction that allows for sharing, learning and building collective perspective. As most with a television set will attest, there is little in everyday conversation that can compete with televisions hypnotic attraction. [...]
Indeed, in the United States, people devote more time to watching television than they do to talking with their spouses (four to six times more) and playing with their children (an average of twenty minutes
each day compared with four hours of television viewing). In Britain, a nation almost as media saturated, 46% of people say that at the end of a working day all they want to do is watch television. And increasingly, television viewing is being done in isolation. In the United States studies suggest that from one third to one half of all viewing is done alone and American teenagers watch less than 5% in the company of their parents. 32 % of British three year olds now have a television in their own room (See Bunting, 2003, Putnam, 2000).
In ‘Bowling Alone’, his encyclopaedic survey of “the collapse of American community” in the latter half of the 20th century, Putnam charts a dramatic decline in virtually every measurable dimension of civic participation. From voting to visiting friends, from having neighbours to dinner to joining clubs and giving money to charity, Americans have, since the arrival of television in the late 1950s, demonstrated a dramatic withdrawal from collective participation in their communities’ lives. In dozens of specific indices, the pattern is the same – a steady increase in social capital during the immediate post-war period until 1957, the point at which television saturated the country. From this point on, all measures of commitment begin to fall off markedly. [...]
In fact attentional capture has been so perfected that the American Psychiatric Association considers commercial television viewing to be a formally addictive disorder - as the behaviour tends to become habitual, compulsive, increasingly ungratifying and difficult to break."

Pentru a recapitula, capitalismul are nevoie de reclame, advertising, pentru a-si vinde marfa produsa in exces, iar televizorul este folosit pentru a promova aceasta publicitate in culori cat mai atractive pe scara larga. Astfel, in capitalism TV-ul devine o adictie, care odata instalata, dauneaza vietii sociale.

Materialismul, promovat de capitalism
Creand false nevoi si exacerband consumul, capitalismul, prin intermediul marketingului, nu doar ca atrofiaza viata sociala, una dintre cheile fericirii umane, dar promoveaza materialismul, un flagel opus fericirii:

"Thus, advertising is constantly forced towards new and more incisive formulations for convincing the broadest possible number that greater consumption of ever more goods is essential to well-being. In the global economy, billions of dollars are spent annually on developing advertising techniques, more than is collectively spent on global education. Legions of highly trained psychologists build careers in the fields of consumer persuasion, bringing rafts of research to bear on the micro processes of manipulating product appeal, image and loyalty.
Although each separate advertisement targets its appeals to a distinct offering, the unrelenting message throughout them all is that consumption and possession represent the only true routes to lasting fulfilment. Of the materialism that results psychologist Tim Kasser says: "...The minds of materialistic people become saturated with shows and ads exhibiting levels of attractiveness and wealth well above the norm, and thus beyond the level of attainment of the average viewer… Put in terms of discrepancy theory, ads create an image (being like the person in the ad who has the product and a great life). Marketers and business people are banking that advertisement-induced discrepancies will convince us to buy the new improved detergent or take out a lease on the new car, so that our discrepancies can be reduced, and so their bank accounts can be enlarged. (2002: p.54)."

Materialismul, inamicul fericirii
"In Kasser’s extensive empirical work, the materialism that television directly shapes, has been found to be a deeply dysfunctional mode – one associated with depression, anxiety, insecurity, physical illness, social isolation, a lack of empathy and a general dissatisfaction with life. In summarising a life-time of research on its nature he writes: "
Existing scientific research on the value of materialism yields clear and consistent findings. People who are highly focused on materialistic values have lower personal wellbeing and psychological health than those who believe that materialistic pursuits are relatively unimportant. These relationships have been documented in samples of people ranging from the wealthy to the poor, from teenagers to the elderly, and from Australians to South Koreans... The studies document that strong materialistic values are associated with a pervasive undermining of people’s well-being, from low life-satisfaction and happiness to depression and anxiety, to physical problems such as headaches, and to personality disorders, narcissism and anti-social behaviour. (2002: p.22)."

Intr-adevar, dupa cum subliniaza si Mcdonald, dincolo de asigurarea nevoilor de supravietuire, acumularea de bani si bunuri nu mai sporeste relevant fericirea: "That materialism is a singularly unprofitable route to happiness is evident also in the considerable literature that attests to consumptions inability to significantly boost
national happiness. The extensive researches of a considerable numerous scholars points to the clear conclusion - that beyond a very basic level of wealth (one essentially enabling security and sustenance), increases in consumption have no significant ability to increase happiness. Rather progress towards this ultimate goal comes from cultivating other satisfactions including friendship, self-understanding and a sense of positive contribution - ones at best unaffected by materialist fixations and at worst wholly undermined by them.[...]
By falsely insinuating materialism as the necessary means to satisfying our deepest common needs, it creates an inefficient illusion that is deeply damaging to the individuals true capacity for
happiness. Indeed to the extent that an unconscious and excessive materialism prevails, it effectively blocks rather than facilitates the effective satisfaction of our most essential non-material needs."

Prietenia, meditatia, contributia pozitiva fata de comunitate trebuie sa apara odata ce nevoile materiale de baza au fost asigurate, nu sporirea continua a bogatiei materiale.

Capitalismul, un sistem imoral
Instigand la materialism si consumerism si daunand vietii sociale si in comun, capitalismul se dovedeste a fi un sistem imoral, exacerband comportamente ce nu sporesc fericirea, in schimb promovand atitudini anti-sociale si risipitoare, contrare integritatii mediului inconjurator.

"Consider the ecological situation for example. It is an unfortunate but inescapable truth that we live on a planet that is limited in its capacity to regenerate resources and recycle waste. The modern growth-fixated economy fails utterly to acknowledge these limits - for as soon as they are admitted, the ethical legitimacy of endlessly expanding consumer appetite evaporates. Looking at even a few of the most prominent environmental indicators strongly suggests that the global ecosystem is under severe stress as it tries to cope with excessive industrial throughput. These trends are however, rarely brought together and connected to materialism. Thus, through televisions unreality we are allowed to ignore the fact that our current levels of consumption demand destroying the ecological integrity that future generations depend upon.
The clear moral implications of behaving in this manner are strategically avoided as capitalism continues to focus solely upon expanding market capacity in the name of short-term profit. What we see here is the basic failure of capitalism to engage a sufficient ethical restraint. In fact we see more than this, that this ethical suspension is critical to the capitalist system - and particularly critical in the mind of the consumer. For the consumer to consume maximally they must be freed from any debilitating concerns including ethical ones. It does not pay to connect poor coffee farmers to the price paid for the luxury beverage in the consumer’s hand, nor global warming to the ‘bigger and better’ four wheel drive. And it is hardly constructive to connect images of battery farming with a romantic dinner for two.[...]
Television cultivates the ideal state of ethical suspension necessary for global business to continue its unsustainable throughput. The consumers it cultivates become maximally greedy, wholly oblivious and ultimately harmful to the collective interest. [...]
Ethical dilemmas can only “spoil the consuming party” and so they are willingly avoided. But it is not only in denying the relationships to the environment or production that capitalisms impacts are negated. Television is most notably silent concerning its own role in undermining the consumer sovereignty so necessary to capitalisms legitimacy."

Asadar, departe de a considera si respecta consumator ca fiind independent si suveran, capitalismul il manipuleaza si ii imprima un comportament contrar sau chiar opus adevaratelor surse de fericire, daunand vietii individuale, sociale si chiar mediului inconjurator.

Judecand prin prisma afirmatiilor lui Ross Mcdonald, putem trage concluzia ca o oranduire sociala egalitarista, care sa interzica goana dupa bani, dupa exagerarea consumului, lipsita de advertising si de programe TV prelungite, care sa nu incurajeze munca in exces si deci si productia in exces, poate evita numeroasele efecte negative subliniate mai sus. Mai putin preocupati de inavutire si consum, mai putin atrasi de solitutidea televizorului, beneficiind de mai mult timp liber, oamenii vor acorda mai multa atentie celorlalti oamenii, care se vor afla pe picio de egalitate cu ei. Astfel, viata sociala precum si integritatea mediului, vor beneficia de o atmosfera generala mult mai prietenoasa si favorabila.

Articolul citat poate si este indicat sa fie citit in intregime la adresa:
http://www.bhutanstudies.org.bt/admin/pubFiles/v11-4.pdf

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Ruut Veenhoven despre slaba relatie dintre venit si fericire

Ruut Veenhoven, 2006

Ruut Veenhoven este profesor la Universitatea Erasmus din Rotterdam, unde preda relatiile dintre conditiile sociale si fericirea umana. Totodata, el este autorul si administratorul proiectului World Database of Happiness, precum si editor la prestigioasa publicatie academica Journal of Happiness Studies.
Intr-o cuvantare tinuta in 2004, Ruut Veenhoven se refera la relatia dintre bani si fericire. Mai intai insa, Veenhoven respinge o obiectie des intalnita in domeniu, anume ca cercetarea stiintifica a fericirii nu ar fi de incredere.

Fericirea poate fi analizata stiintific
"The evidence presented draws on a considerable body of survey research in which happiness is measured by single questions such as: "Taking all together, how satisfied or dissatisfied are you currently with your life as a whole?" [...]
Though these questions are fairly clear, responses can be flawed in several ways. Responses may reflect how happy people think they should be rather than how happy they actually feel and it is also possible that people present themselves as happier than they actually are. These suspicions have given rise to numerous validation studies.
Elsewhere I have reviewed this research and concluded that there is no evidence that responses to these questions measure something other than what they are meant to measure (Veenhoven 1984,1996). Though this is no guarantee that future research will never reveal a deficiency, we can trust these measures of happiness for the time being.
Research has also shown that responses are affected by minor variations in wording and ordering of questions and by situational factors, such as the race of the interviewer or the weather. As a result the same person may score 6 in one investigation and 7 in another. This lack of precision hampers analyses at the individual level. It is less of a problem when average happiness in groups is compared, since random fluctuations tend to balance. This is typically the case when happiness is used in policy evaluation."

Obiectii filosofice, combatute
Daca definim fericirea ca fiind satisfacerea dorintelor, nu se poate spune ca ceea ce pentru o persoana inseamna fericirea, pentru alta poate nu insemna nimic deoarece fiecare are alte dorinte?

"Still, the objection is made that responses on such questions are not comparable, because a score of 6 does not mean the same for everybody.
A common philosophical argument for this position is that happiness depends on the realization of wants and that these wants differ across persons and cultures. Yet it is not at all sure that happiness depends on the realization of idiosyncratic wants. The available data are more in line with the theory that it depends on the gratification of universal needs (Veenhoven 1991, 1997).
A second qualm holds that is happiness a typical western concept that is not recognized in other cultures. Yet happiness appears to be a universal emotion that is recognized in facial expression all over the world and for which words exists in all languages.
A related objection is that happiness is a unique experience that cannot be communicated on an equivalent scale. Yet from an evolutionary point of view it is unlikely that we differ very much. As in the case of pain, there will be a common human spectrum of experience.
Lastly there is methodological reservation about possible cultural-bias in the measurement of happiness, due to problems with translation of keywords and cultural variation in response tendencies. Elsewhere I have looked for empirical evidence for these distortions, but did not find any (Veenhoven 1993: chapter 5).
All these objections imply that research using these measures of happiness will fail to find any meaningful correlations. Research has shown that this is not true. At the individual level we can explain about 40% of the observed differences in happiness and at the societal level about 80% (Veenhoven 1997)."

Veenhoven despre relatia bani-fericire
Ruut Veenhoven scrie ca unele studii au aratat ca persoanele ce detin un venit peste medie, tind sa fie ceva mai fericite decat restul, insa dovezile sunt slabe in acest sens si, in plus, aceasta situatie poate fi explicata fara a face referire la venitul lor. Altfel spui, se prea poate ca respectivii sa fie ceva mai fericiti din alte motive, nu datorita venitului lor.

"The higher happiness in the high-income brackets is not necessarily due to more consumption, but could also result from other things. One alternative explanation is that high earners tend to be more active and healthy and for that reason feel happier. Another reason may lie in the cultural capital of the well-to do and in particular the art-of-living passed on by their parents. Statistic control for such variables does not reduce the correlation to insignificance (World Database of Happiness, Correlational findings, section I 1 'Income)."

Raportul bani-fericire referitor la grupuri
"There is good evidence for short-term effects. For instance, in a 2 year follow-up in Germany and Russia Schyns (2003) observed that an above average rise in income was accompanied by a small gain in happiness and that a relative drop in income was followed by a substantial decline in happiness (chapter 6).
Yet other studies show that income-change affects happiness only among male income earners (Bradburn 1969: 104) and that happiness is unrelated to the ratio of pre- and post-retirement income among retirees (Maxwell, 1985: 31).
There is less evidence for long-term effects of income change on happiness. In a nine-year follow-up in the USA, Diener et al (1993) found hardly any effect of greater happiness among the peoples who had done well financially than among those who had not; in fact, the income increase group was somewhat lower in happiness. Other studies have yielded variable effects (Diener & Biswas-Diener (2002). Though this matter is not fully settled as yet, it is clear that the long-term effects of income change are modest at best.
This lack of a substantive lasting effect could be due to habituation. Schyns (2003) found that the gains of income increase indeed washed away in rich West Germany, but not in poor Russia. Diener et. al. (1993) found no such difference between richer and poorer parts of the USA."

Nici macar fericirea oarecum superioara a tarilor bogate nu e obligatoriu sa fie datorata abundentei materiale, ci unor cu totul altor factori, ce pot fi atinsi, in principiu, si in statele sarace:
"The higher happiness in the affluent nations need not be due to lavish consumption. Affluent nations are typically also democratic and well governed, and these political merits could affect happiness more. It is even possible that the predicted negative effect of opulence is veiled by such intervening variables."

Bunurile materiale si fericirea
Din nou Veenhoven explica faptul ca cei care au mai multe bunuri materiale tind sa aiba un oarecare plus de fericire, dar chiar si in acest caz exista explicatii alternative.

"We come closer to the issue of sustainability if we consider consumption it self. A few studies have assessed the correlation between possession of consumer goods and happiness. The correlations are typically small, but positive. The haves tend to be happier than the have-nots.
These correlations do not prove that possessing more of these goods makes us happier. Firstly, the statistical relation can be spurious; for instance because married people have more consumer goods and are also happier than singles are. Such possible effects have not been investigated systematically as yet. [...]
Secondly, the correlation can be due to an effect of happiness on consumption rather than reversely; possibly the happy are more inclined to invest in durable goods. A test of this interpretation requires longitudinal data. Unfortunately follow-up studies on this matter are scarce; as yet there is little available data on this. All I found was a study in Japan, which observed a slight positive change in happiness in the year after purchase of a cloths-dryer and a mobile phone (Ozawa & Hofstetter, 2004)."

Mai mult, tari mult mai sarace pot fi si sunt la fel de fericite ca cele bogate: "Yet these data also show us that we can be fairly happy with less. In scheme 7 we have seen that the Mexicans are about as happy as the British in spite of the fact that they consume less than half the amount the British do. Likewise scheme 8 has shown that the
British could live equally happy at that level of consumption of 30 years ago. So we must be able to adjust to a substantial reduction in consumption."

In context, Ruut Veenhoven sustine faptul ca odata depasit pragul saraciei, imbogatirea nu mai afecteaza relevant fericirea oamenilor: " The answer depends on the degree to which these generation will have to live with less. Happiness will decline if they are reduced to poverty, that is, when they end up below the equivalent of US $ 10.000 per capita in Scheme 7. Yet a considerable reduction above that level is unlikely to depress the level of happiness lastingly in the
currently rich nations. As we have seen, the British lived happily at half the current level of consumption in 1970 and the Mexicans live happily at such a level today. Why could our grandchildren not live in 2050 live happily on the same scale?"

Spre reducerea consumului
Din moment ce banii nu mai aduc fericirea odata trecut pragul saraciei, in schimb cresterea consumului este posibil, chiar probabil, sa duca la efecte precum epuizarea resurselor si poluarea, factori care influenteaza negativ fericirea viitoarelor generatii, Veenhoven pledeaza pentru reducerea substantiala a consumului din prezent.

"Sustainable consumption by the present generation may add the happiness of following generations if this averts massive poverty
and major ecological disaster. Otherwise, no substantive effects are to be expected. On the other hand there is also good ground to expect that we can live quite happy with less consumption. Thirty years ago the British and the Americans lived equally happy with half and today the Mexicans live quite happy at the same level of consumption."

Intr-adevar, nu avem nimic de pierdut daca renuntam la nivelul ridicat de consum din prezent, in schimb astfel putem spori gradul general de fericire al omenirii, evitand neajunsuri sau chiar catastrofe ecologice.

In concluzie, Ruut Veenhoven sustine ca fericirea poate fi masurata stiintific, ca sporirea averii are, conform unora dintre studii, efecte in cel mai bun caz modeste asupra sporirii fericirii, insa ca sporirea consumului este de asteptat sa aiba un impact negativ asupra bunastarii generatiilor viitoare, astfel incat este recomandata diminuarea ratei prezente de consum.
Articolul citat poate fi gasit integral la adresa: http://www2.eur.nl/fsw/research/veenhoven/Pub2000s/2004d-full.pdf

Friday, July 25, 2008

Schopenhauer despre fericire, in lumina studiilor contemporane

Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860)

In cel mai recent numar al publicatiei academice Journal of Happiness Studies (2008) 9:379–395, cercetatorii Rozemarijn Schalkx si Ad Bergsma au publicat articolul "Arthur’s advice: comparing Arthur Schopenhauer’s advice on happiness with contemporary research". Cu aceasta ocazie, cei doi au comparat sfaturile filosofului german Arthur Schopenhauer cu rezultatele studiilor contemporane despre fericire. Este util sa urmarim evidentiem cateva dintre fragmentele acestui articol, in special pentru ca trece in revista descoperirile stiintelor sociale in privinta fericirii.

Nu cauta avere
"Schopenhauer writes that a lot of money does not make one very happy. Everybody needs a basic income to be able to survive, but after that, wealth is very relative. This view is corroborated in the findings of contemporary empirical research. The many correlational studies listed in the WDH (findings on ‘Income’) typically show little relationship between objective income and happiness in affluent nations. Satisfaction with income is more strongly related to happiness than actual income. Schopenhauer is right when he states that satisfaction with income is more a matter of interpretation than of objective circumstances."

Asadar, Rozemarijn Schalkx si Ad Bergsma confirma faptul ca din cercetarile recente asupra relatiei venit-fericire, reiese faptul ca banii nu aduc fericirea odata ce un prag modest este trecut, ceea ce sustinea si Schopenhauer.

O viata activa, o viata fericita
Contrar sfaturilor lui Schopenhauer, evitarea durerii si apatia nu duc la sporirea fericirii, ci cautarea activa a fericirii si incercarea de a atinge anumite scopuri, cu relevanta fata de lumea din jur si viata celorlalti.

"In Schopenhauer’s general rules, the emphasis lies on finding freedom from pain and being satisfied with little. This advice is unfortunate for two reasons. The first is that absence of distress is not sufficient to warrant happiness. We have described above
that phlegmatic people are low on distress and low on well being. Also, choleric people are high on distress, but high on well being as well. It can be concluded that happiness is a more positive state than the mere absence of pain.
The second reason is that emotion-focused coping keeps people from actively pursuing the goals in life they find important. Schopenhauer tells them not to try too much, because in the end nothing lasts. Research, however, shows that having goals can add structure and meaning to daily life and that progress towards goals can produce high well being (Diener et al., 1999). Reaching a certain goal makes people feel more in control of their lives and increases feelings of self-worth (Baumeister, 1991, pp. 119–127). Happy people are usually active, outgoing, concerned in the world and involved in the lives of other people (Veenhoven, 1988)."

Relatiile sociale, esentiale pentru fericire
Schopenhauer s-a inselat din nou in privinta importantei pe care relatiile cu ceilalti o au pentru fericirea personala.

"According to Schopenhauer people and friendship should not be trusted and especially the talented should prefer loneliness. The empirical findings indicate that this is not correct. A positive attitude towards social interaction and friendship shows a positive correlation with happiness and so does the number of visits of relatives, the
number of friends, the number of close friends, the attendance at parties, the amount of intimate discussions and social participation (WDH, correlational findings on happiness and ‘Friendship’, ‘Family’ and ‘Social involvement’)."

La fel si in privinta mariajului.

"In Schopenhauer’s view, marriage has been created by women to make sure that men take care of them financially, and is something that would make men unhappy.
This idea is not supported by contemporary data.3 In fact, being married is good for the well being of both men and women, but the correlations are even higher for men (WDH, correlational findings on happiness and ‘Marital status’). It seems that women are more able to form social networks that buffer the loneliness of being single."

In concluziile, cercetarile din prezent confirma faptul ca averea nu aduce fericire, demonstrand totodata ca o atingerea anumitor teluri in viata, laolalta cu o viata sociala activa, sporesc fericirea.
Articolul citat poate fi gasit complet la adresa:
http://www.springerlink.com/content/fh0353431174158h/fulltext.pdf

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Toleranta fata de inegalitatile de venit, spre zero

In lucrarea lor "The Emerging Aversion to Inequality: Evidence from Poland 1992–2005", Irena Grosfled, profesor la Scoala de Economie din Paris, Universitatea Sorbona, impreuna cu Claudia Senik, de la aceeasi institutie, demonstreaza ca in Polonia aversiunea fata de inegalitatile socio-economice este in crestere si ca aceste inegalitati tind sa scada fericirea si multumirea generala a populatiei.

Prezentare generala:
"We focus on the Polish experience, which, after 45 years of Communism, engaged in a process of radical transformation in 1989 (Sachs, 1993). The peaceful and negotiated “refolution”, i.e. a combination of gradual reforms and revolutionary change (Garton Ash, 1989), consisting of the twin transitions towards democracy and a market economy, brought about radical changes in attitudes and expectations.
Initially, the process relied on high expectations and massive support from the population. Immense hopes were entrusted in the mere abandon of Socialism.
In the middle of the 1990s, however, this consensual period started to come to an end, and initial enthusiasm gave way to disappointment: expectations began to be confronted with experience. Criticism of some of the transition outcomes, including corruption, growing inequality (Brainerd, 1998; Milanovic, 1998, 1999; Kornai, 2006) and the high price paid by the losers of transition, progressively became the dominant theme of public discourse."

Pe scurt, desi imediat dupa caderea socialismului, sperantele populatiei au fost mari, treptat, dupa aproximativ 7-8 ani, majoritatea populatiei a adoptat o atitudine sceptica si chiar accentuat negativa fata de noile schimbari politico-economice, dominate de inegalitati si coruptie.

Pericolele reprezentate de existenta inegalitatilor:
Cele doua autoare tin sa sublinieze ca existenta inegalitatilor in societate este o cauza de nemultumire si dorinta de schimbare, astfel incat realitatea din polonia nu trebuie sa ne mire.

"Alesina and Perotti (1993) provide empirical evidence that
income inequality fuels social discontent and instability. Acemoglu and Robinson (2000, 2002) argue that much of the historical evolutions of Nineteenth Century Europe, in particular the extension of voting rights that led to unprecedented redistributive programs, can be viewed as a strategy by the elite to avoid political discontent and revolution, which was in turn fed by the rising inequalities from economic development and industrialization."

Date statistice relevante:
"Several public opinion polls reveal the weakening of political support for reform after 1997.
Figure 1 draws on a Public Opinion Research Center survey (CBOS, 2003) to show that the tolerance for income inequality, as a counterpart of “future well-being” and “economic progress” increased up to 1997, and then fell.
The same pattern is observed for the belief that “energetic entrepreneurs should be remunerated well in order to ensure the growth of the Polish economy”, and to a lesser extent the belief that “future well-being in Poland requires remunerating well those who work hard”. By contrast, the opinion that “the government
should reduce differences between high and low wages” gained in popularity after 1997.
Finally, the number of citizens who declare that “inequalities of income are too large in Poland” increased after 1998. The same pattern is visible in the data from the New Europe Barometer surveys. These data show that, in Poland, the proportion of individuals who declare that “incomes should be made equal so that there is no great difference in income” rather than “individual achievement should determine how much people are paid; the more successful should be paid more” rose from 24% in 1992 to 32% in 1998, and 54% in 2004."

Asadar, procentul celor care considera ca veniturile ar trebui egalizate in loc ca realizarile personale sa determine cantitatea veniturilor a crescut de la 24% in 1992 la 32% in 1998 si la 54% in 2004.

In concluzie:
"The findings of this paper constitute a link between the literature on subjective well-being and the political economy literature focusing on inequality and growth. It provides, from the “internal” subjective point of view of citizens, some evidence of the mechanism, hypothesized for instance by Acemoglu and Robinson (2000, 2002) or Alesina and Rodrik (1994), that growth that is accompanied by inequality generates dissatisfaction. Dissatisfaction, in turn, can create political opposition to further reform."

Pe scurt deci, inegalitatea este vazuta de cetatenii polonezi ca un rau in sine, chiar si atunci cand este acompaniata de crestere economica.
Studiul citat, aparut in luna mai 2008, poate fi citit in intregime la adresa:
http://ftp.iza.org/dp3484.pdf

Prioritatile fericirii

In august 2006, a fost facut public un sondaj efectuat in randul populatiei australiene referitor la ce o face fericita si ce opinie are in legatura cu bunastarea din Australia.
In acelasi an, The Australia Institute a publicat un studiu intitulat "The Attitudes of Australians to Happiness and Social Well-being", realizat de Clive Hamilton si Emma Rush , in care sunt comentate rezultatele sondajului.

Prezentare generala:
"A national telephone survey of 1000 people was conducted by Ipsos Mackay during the month of August 2006. A stratified random sampling method was used to ensure the sample was representative of all Australians by location, and the results were weighted to reflect Australian Bureau of Statistics population figures."

Prioritatile fericirii:
Care au fost valorile pe care australienii le-au indicat ca avand un rol principal in atingerea fericirii?

"It is widely believed that Australians, like citizens of other Western countries, are intensely materialistic. Certainly, Australians themselves see their society this way with 83 per cent agreeing that ‘Australian society today is too materialistic, with too much emphasis on money and not enough on the things that really matter’ (Hamilton and Denniss 2005, p. 148). Yet public policy, the news media and private behaviour seems to place an extraordinary emphasis on higher incomes and material acquisitions."

Este accentul pus de media si de intreprinderile private pe acumularea materiala justificat? Nu, deoarece prioritatile oamenilor sunt cu totul altele.

"Despite the variety of possible responses, almost 60 per cent of respondents nominated their relationships with their family, including their partner or spouse, as the most important factor contributing to their happiness and well-being. Health is the next most important, with 18 per cent overall citing it as most important, followed by community and friends (8 per cent) and religious/spiritual life (5 per cent). Only 4 per cent consider their money and financial situation to be the most important factor in their happiness."

Asadar, o minoritate aproape nesemnificativa considera ca aspectul banesc poate fi considerat important in privinta fericirii, prioritare cu adevarat fiind relatiile sociale, sanatatea si viata spirituala.
De remarcat ca implinirea prin munca a fost considerata de doar 2% dintre australieni ca fiind cea mai importanta importanta in acest sens.
Rezultatele sondajului realizat de Ipsos Mackay sunt deci asemanatoare cu cele ale unui sondaj pe aceleasi tema realizat de BBC si publicat in 2005 in Times, ale carui subiecxti au fost britanicii si despre care am scris in postarea "Sondaj efectuat de revista Time despre fericire", publicat pe blog la 31 decembrie 2007.

Cu toate progresele materiale, devine viata mai buna?
"Table 5 shows that more Australians believe that life in Australia is getting worse than believe it is getting better. Although 34 per cent of Australians believe that quality of life in Australia is staying about the same and 25 per cent of Australians say the overal quality of life in Australia is getting better, 39 per cent of Australians believe it is getting worse.
Given that economic conditions have been very favourable for over a decade, with high incomes and low unemployment, it seems remarkable that only a quarter of the population believes that life in Australia is improving and four in ten believe it is deteriorating."

Iata deci ca in ciuda progreselor economice, majoritatea populatiei nu considera ca viata devine mai buna. De fapt, de-a lungul ultimilor ani, cresterea veniturilor a corespuns cu cresterea pesimismului australienilor. Dupa cum noteaza si Hamilton&Rush:

"This question was asked in a Newspoll survey in 1999 (Eckersley 1999). Then 36 per cent of Australians said that the overall quality of life was getting worse (with 14 per cent indicated ‘a lot worse’), indicating that Australians now take a slightly more negative view. In the 1999 survey 24 per cent said life is getting better and 38 per cent
said it was staying about the same."

Studiul marca Australia Institute poate fi descarcat integral de la adresa:
https://www.tai.org.au/file.php?file=WP90.pdf

Un alt comentariu legat de sondajul discutat, se poate citi la adresa:
http://www.smh.com.au/news/opinion/goodbye-wealth-hello-happiness/2007/08/16/1186857678276.html
El este intitulat "Goodbye wealth, hello happiness".

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Ostilitate internationala fata de inegalitatile socio-economice

Dintr-un sondaj de opinie realizat de Financial Times si Harris in perioada 30 aprilie - 12 mai rezulta ca majoritatea covarsitoare a populatiilor intervievate este ostila inegalitatilor economice din prezent dintre bogati si restul societatii si ca isi doreste marirea impozitelor platite de bogatasi.

Ostilitate generala fata de inegalitati
"A United National Development Programme report in 2005 estimated that the world's richest 50 people were earning more than the 416 million poorest. According to the latest FT/Harris poll, strong majorities in five European countries - ranging from 76 per cent in Spain to 87 per cent in Germany - consider that income inequality is too great. But 78 per cent of respondents in the US, traditionally seen as more tolerant of income inequality, also think the gap is too wide. [...] For the first time, the FT/Harris poll surveyed opinion in Asia. In China, which has experienced three decades of helter-skelter development, 80 per cent of respondents think income inequality is too great."

Sa marim impozitarea bogatasilor: "Clear majorities in all countries agree that taxes should be raised on the rich and lowered on the poor. In Britain, 74 per cent of respondents think that those on low incomes should be taxed less, helping to explain the furore that surrounded the Labour government's decision to abolish the 10p income tax rate."

Articolul in poate fi citit la: http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/47fa6248-253c-11dd-a14a-000077b07658.html
O relatare in limba romana poate fi citita la:
http://www.ziarulfaclia.ro/Bogatii-antipatizati-cel-mai-tare-de-germani-si-chinezi+10655

Inegalitatile economice conteaza

In decembrie 2007, Canadian Center for Policy Alternatives a facut publica o lucrare, numita "Why Inequality Matters" ce consta in opiniile a opt cercetatori despre nocivitatea inegalitatilor sociale. Comentariile lor se refera in mare parte la cazul Canadei, insa ele caracterizeaza realitatile din majoritatea tarilor capitaliste.
Voi prezenta mai jos cele mai reprezentative fragmente din cinci articole, prezentand inaintea fiecarui text, in italice, numele autorului si competentele sale :

Trish Hennessy is director of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives’ Inequality Project. He project focuses on trends in income and wealth distribution in Canada.

In capitalism bogatia creste, dar numai cativa beneficiaza de ea
"Canada is now the 9th richest nation in the world. Unemployment is at a 35-year low, more Canadian families raising children are working, and they’re working more.
And yet the income gap between the richest 10% and the poorest 10% of Canadian families keeps growing. he richest 10% now make 82 times more than the poorest—in 1976 they only made 31 times more.
A new phenomenon is also at play; one that goes beyond the extremes of the very rich and the very poor. Compared to a generation ago, 80% of Canadian families are taking home a smaller share of the economic pie they helped make. The concentration of incomes and wealth at the very top is accelerating. Dropping poverty rates may signal a recent shift from welfare poor to working poor, but that shift has not lifted people out of the struggle to make ends meet. heir struggle is very real and it is shared by many Canadians. The growing gap in Canada is no longer ‘ just’ about the rich and poor—it’s about the rich and the rest of us. The majority of Canadians say they worry about a growing gap. About half of Canadians told Environics Research they feel they are one or two missed paycheques from poverty. Economic insecurity is rife across most of the income spectrum."
================================================

John Kesselman holds the Canada Research Chair in Public Finance with the Graduate Public Policy Program at Simon Fraser University and co-edited “Dimensions of Inequality in Canada” (UBC Press), winner of the 2007 Doug Purvis Prize for economic policy research.

Pericolele reprezentate de existenta bogatilor
"Between 1980 and 2000, the top 5 percent of earners increased their share of total incomes from 23 percent to 29 percent. Even more striking, the top one-thousandth of earners more than doubled their share from under 2 percent to over 5 percent. Is there any reason for Canadians to be concerned about the sharp increase in incomes at the top end of the distribution?
Top earners exert disproportionate inluence on public opinion and politics. The further their incomes diverge from average, the more divorced they become from the needs of average citizens. For example, the push for privatization of health care is driven in part by a minority who can easily aford to pay for their own needs directly. Growing inequality at the upper end raises the spectre of a more class-riven society. Families who have the means to live on palatial estates, travel on a whim, and send their kids to elite schools develop a consciousness that sets them apart from others. Those divisions operate in all areas of life to diminish the eicacy and self-worth of the average citizen. The lifestyles and possessions of the rich also reduce the well-being of their fellow and sister citizens. Social science research has conirmed the “relative income” efect; peoples’ satisfaction with what they have hinges in part on the resources and opportunities enjoyed by others. A middle-class home is not as satisfying if your boss has a mansion."
================================================

Charles Beach is a professor of Economics at Queen’s University.

Populatia saraceste si doar bogatii continua sa acumuleze
"[...] between 1980 and 2005, [...] In terms of the shares of total income received among all family units, the poorest 20 percent of family units saw their share of total incomes fall from 4.3 to 4.1 percent since 1980. he next 20 percent saw their share fall from 10.9 to 9.6 percent.
The middle quintile share declined from 17.9 to 15.6 percent. The second top quintile share also went down from 25.2 to 23.9 percent. In terms of the shares of total income received among all family units, the poorest 20 percent of family units saw their share of total incomes fall from 4.3 to 4.1 percent since 1980. he next 20 percent saw their share fall from 10.9 to 9.6 percent. The middle quintile share declined from 17.9 to 15.6 percent. The second top quintile share also went down from 25.2 to 23.9 percent. The income share of the richest ifth of families rose dramatically, from 41.8 to 46.9 percent. Income tax data suggest the big winners are even a narrower band of very high income recipients. Clearly over this period, the beneits of economic growth have no longer been broadly shared. A rising tide has no longer been raising all boats. Again between 1980 and 2005, average incomes among the poorest 20 percent of family units rose only slightly from $12,200 to $12,700 per year, in 2005 dollars. For the middle quintile, it actually declined from $50,800 to $49,100.
For the richest ifth, mean incomes rose by 23.8 percent, from $118,700 to $147,000 per year. The beneits of economic growth have been largely enjoyed by high income families."

Pericolele inegalitatilor socio-economice
"Increased resentment, disafection, social conlict, violence and crime potentially associated with substantially widened inequality could also reduce the security of property rights. This would make capital investments less attractive when it comes to investing in other, more high-growth and secure regions in an increasingly globalized economy. Again, this would reduce output potential and living standards in Canada.
Greater inequality may also generate political pressure in a democracy for distortionary redistribution policies (through the income tax system, say, or regulatory policies) which, in turn, would inhibit investment and long-run economic growth as well as living standards.
Finally, a more economically polarized Canada may be more fractious and less stable; it could function less efficiently politically. Widening polarization may erode Canada’s established broad middle class consensus, reduce social cohesion in society, and make it harder to develop new policy directions to address social and economic problems. Growing inequality can thus have fundamental effects on
Canadian values, broad living standards, and middle class well-being."
================================================

John Myles is Canada Research Chair and professor of Sociology at the University of Toronto.

Oamenii muncesc mai mult, dar numai "cei de sus" se imbogatesc
"Canadian employment rates and annual hours worked per worker have reached historic highs. The employment of single moms rose from 61 to 73 percent between 1980 and 2000 and those working almost full-year (40+ weeks) rose from 42 to 56 percent.
Instead, the winners and losers in Canada’s economic sweepstakes are mainly the result of historical luck. Today’s CEOs are earning exorbitant salaries because they happened to be born later than their predecessors of the 1970s, not because of any new-found managerial wizardry. [...] Most of the rise in inequality is the result of a growing gap between families at the top of the distribution and those in the middle. While higher income families have seen their earnings surge, earnings of middle- and low-income Canadians have stagnated."

Egalitarismul, necesar democratiei
"Democracy, by deinition, is egalitarian (“one person, one vote”): rights are attached to people, not to their property. Markets, by contrast, are driven by inequality (“one dollar, one vote”) and, by deinition, generate more inequalities. In the 19th century, it was widely believed that mass democracy would destroy markets: the “many” would simply use their political power to expropriate the wealth of the “few” and markets would collapse. That never happened. [...]
Times have changed, and as the inequality trends indicate, Canadians face new distributive challenges. his is no time to rest on the laurels of those who preceded us. The viability of our society requires efficient markets; but it also requires effective democracy."
================================================

Frank Cunningham is a professor of Philosophy and Political Science at the University of Toronto.

Din nou despre inegalitati si democratie
"Inequality is an enemy of democracy. Autocracy is harmful to public spirit, since people understand themselves to be politically impotent. When a democratic society contains significant inequalities, it begins to resemble an autocracy. If money can determine for whom one is able to vote and dictates limits on what representatives can do once elected, understandable cynicism results and, with it, the weakening
of public commitment."
"Gross income inequalities stand in the way of a democratic Canadian public in the following ways:
The rich can leave the boat. They know it and the rest know it. With sufficient wealth, children can be educated in private schools, walled-in homes and country estates provide escape from urban blight, chaufeurs ease the discomfort of commuting. This creates two publics, one mainly concerned with making ends meet, the other with keeping and enhancing its wealth.
Public resources for addressing problems are diminished. The accelerating income disparities were largely made possible by reduction of social services and public resources. This afects the potential for public action and demoralizes people about taking collective action.
Canadians become beggars. With reduction of public resources, the charity of the rich must increasingly be relied on. One efect is that their priorities get privileged attention. Another is that catering to the wealthy to maintain social services defines these not as rights but as privileges conferred by a minority as they see it. This is not a situation conducive to a sense of public reciprocity.
Inequalities foster elitism and resentment. A common right-wing allegation is that people who are not rich are jealous of those who are. At odds with this perspective is that those who thrive due to their own hard work typically are not resented. This results when people are well of just through inheritance, when rich executives give
themselves large income hikes, or when the amounts of wealth in question are obscenely high. Meanwhile, many of the rich see their wealth as signs of their superiority. Though publics are not the same thing as friendship communities they still require mutual respect in order to take common actions. Resentment and elitism are not conducive to mutual respect.
Gross inequalities are part of a culture of possessive individualism. An alternative to resenting great wealth is aspiring to it as a main goal of life. This is a component of what the political philosopher C.B. Macpherson called “possessive individualism”. The contrasting culture is one where people aim to develop their talents in cooperation with one another. Public action in a possessive-individualist society is motivated by self-interested calculations, which is a shaky foundation for a vibrant public."

Lucrarea integrala poate fi descarcata de la adresa:
http://www.growinggap.ca/files/Why%20Inequality%20Matters%20in%201000%20words%20or%20less.pdf

Ce ne demonstreaza cele cinci texte citate?
1. ca in capitalism, saracii saracesc si bogatii continua sa acumuleze, pe cand firesc ar fi fost sa se intample invers.
2. ca inegalitatile sociale afecteaza procesele democratice si coeziunea sociala.

De aceea, reducerea inegalitatilor si implementarea strategiilor egalitariste nu doar ca vor stopa goana consumerista si tendintele materialiste, dar vor influenta pozitiv societatea si prin asigurarea proveselor democratrice, cresterea coeziunii si sporirea fericirii generale prin redistribuirea catre cei mai saraci.

Inegalitatile si boala secolului XXI

In studiul lor "Wider income gaps, wider waistbands? An ecological study of obesity and income inequality", aparut in Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health 2005; 59:670-674, patru specialisti in epidemiologie, sanatate publica si problema obezitatii, in speta Kate E Pickett, Shona Kelly, Eric Brunner, Tim Lobstein si Richard G Wilkinson, demonstreaza ca inegalitatile socio-economice cauzeaza in randul populatiei asa-numita "boala a secolului XXI", obezitatea.

Prezentare generala a studiului
"OBJECTIVES: To see if obesity, deaths from diabetes, and daily calorie intake are associated with income inequality among developed countries.
DESIGN: Ecological study of 21 developed countries.Countries: Countries were eligible for inclusion if they were among the top 50 countries with the highest gross national income per capita by purchasing power parity in 2002, had a population over 3 million, and had available data on income inequality and outcome measures. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Percentage of obese (body mass index >30) adult men and women, diabetes mortality rates, and calorie consumption per capita per day.
RESULTS: Adjusting for gross national per capita income, income inequality was positively correlated with the percentage of obese men (r = 0.48, p = 0.03), the percentage of obese women (r = 0.62, p = 0.003), diabetes mortality rates per 1 million people (r = 0.46, p = 0.04), and average calories per capita per day (r = 0.50, p = 0.02). Correlations were stronger if analyses were weighted for population size. The effect of income inequality on female obesity was independent of average calorie intake.
CONCLUSIONS: Obesity, diabetes mortality, and calorie consumption were associated with income inequality in developed countries. Increased nutritional problems may be a consequence of the psychosocial impact of living in a more hierarchical society."

Solutia pentru stoparea raspandirii acestui flagel nu poate fi decat una: punerea in practica a masurilor egalitariste de redistributie: "Public policies promoting greater equality and reducing the burden of low social status may make an important contribution to reducing and preventing obesity. Relative deprivation may influence the effectiveness of policies designed to promote good nutrition and physical activity."

Studiul integral poate fi citit la:
http://jech.bmj.com/cgi/content/full/59/8/670#R21

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Doua studii recente, pe scurt

Prezint mai jos, pe scurt, punctele cheie a doua studii publicate recent, din care reiese ca odata trecut pragul saraciei, valorile non-pecuniare (precum socializarea) asigura sporirea fericirii, nu imobogatirea.

Primul studiu a fost realizat de Masoud Moghaddam, profesor de economie la St. Cloud State University. Materialul, intitulat „Happiness, Faith, Friends, and Fortune—Empirical Evidence from the 1998 US Survey Data ” si publicat in Journal of Happiness Studies, februarie 2008, demonstreaza ca, in ciuda unui boom economic important, populatia americana nu a fost mai fericita datorita banilor, ci in mare parte unor factori non-pecuniari. Iata prezentarea studiului:

„ This paper studies both pecuniary and non-pecuniary factors affecting happiness—an issue that has sparked a great deal of interest in the economic literature. Using an ordered Probit model and the 1998 general social survey (GSS) data, the paper empirically demonstrates the extent to which socioeconomic and demographic variables along with faith and emotionally based factors may determine happiness. The 1998 survey was conducted nearly at the conclusion of one of the longest economic expansion—a high income low inflation era in the US history. However, the findings tend to suggest that the absolute value of nominal income insignificantly, but non-pecuniary elements (faith and emotionally based factors including financial security) significantly determine happiness. ”
http://www.springerlink.com/content/q1l770463251725q/

Al doilea studiu „Family support, family income, and happiness: A 10-year perspective”, aparut in Journal of Family Psychology. 2008 Jun Vol 22(3) 475-483, realizat de o echipa de cercetatori coordonati de Rebecca North, conclude ca familia, nu sporirea venitului, influenteaza pozitiv fericirea. Iata prezentarea studiului:

„This study examined the role of 2 central aspects of family life--income and social support--in predicting concurrent happiness and change in happiness among 274 married adults across a 10-year period. The authors used hierarchical linear modeling to investigate the relationship between family income and happiness. Income had a small, positive impact on happiness, which diminished as income increased. In contrast, family social support, measured by 3 subscales, Cohesion, Expressiveness, and Conflict, showed a substantial, positive association with concurrent happiness, even after controlling for income. Furthermore, family income moderated the association between family social support and concurrent happiness; family social support was more strongly associated with happiness when family income was low than when family income was high. In addition, change in family social support was positively related to change in happiness, whereas change in family income was unrelated to change in happiness. These findings suggest that happiness can change and underscore the importance of exploring more deeply the role that family relationships play in facilitating such change”.
http://psycnet.apa.org/index.cfm?fa=search.displayRecord&uid=2008-06807-015

Sa punem asadar accent pe valorile non-materialiste si sa evitam pe cat posibil munca in exces si goana dupa imbogatire.