Hasta la victoria siempre

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Progres economic si deteriorare sociala

Maurizio Pugno este profesor de economie la Universitatea din Cassino. Pugno este autorul unui excelent articol numit "THE HAPPINESS PARADOX: A FORMAL EXPLANATION FROM PSYCHO-ECONOMICS".
Lucrarea sa nu aduce nimic radical nou fata de ceea ce am prezentat pe acest blog in nenumarate randuri deja legat de relatia dintre succesul economic si fericire, insa autorul rezuma foarte bine cateva dintre principalele concluzii si, in plus, subliniaza pertinent importanta relatiilor sociale pentru fericire si diluarea lor in societatea contemporana, capitalista.
Sa-l urmarim deci punct cu punct.
Dovezi ca banii in exces nu produc fericire: Paradoxul fericirii
"The happiness paradox was first raised by Easterlin (1974). By measuring happiness by means of self-reported ratings on subjective well-being (SWB), he shows that in the US happiness has not exhibited a definite rising trend since WWII, whereas real income per head has instead done so.
The evidence from recent econometric studies reinforces the paradox and makes it even more puzzling. In fact, the trend of SWB between the mid-1970s and the mid-1990s in the US is clearly downwards, and the same pattern emerges for Belgium and for the young component of the population of the UK. This strengthening of the paradox is not emphasised by the literature, although the SWB index has been successfully tested for reliability and validity by various methods.
Easterlin‘s finding of no significant trend of SWB has been recently confirmed for the EU and for many European member-states. Japan has also been often cited as a striking case, because real income per head rose sixfold in that country between 1958 and 1991, while proportion of people rating themselves as ”very happy‘ did not seem to change over the same period.
The strong version of the paradox is also supported by other well-known facts, like the recent increase in mental depression, which has been tested as strictly inversely correlated with SWB. Several studies show that depression has significantly increased in the US and other major developed countries since WWII, sometimes specifying that the phenomenon recurs across generations.
Particularly worring is the rise in other mental sufferings among children and adolescents as evidenced by the threefold increase in their psychotropic medication, and in particular in treatment of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder between 1987 and 1996 in the US. Worrying rises in the incidence of —pervasive developmental disorder“, depression, and suicides among young people have also been found in the UK.
An even more dramatic index of declining well-being in various countries is the
suicide rate. Strictly speaking, this concerns only a small amount of the population, but it may represent the deeper-lying malaise of a larger fraction of it, insofar as suicide may be attempted or even seriously considered but not committed (Oswald 1997). The suicide rate increased for the US, the EU and Japan from the mid-1960s until the 1980s. Lester-Yang‘s (1997) survey of several studies shows that the correlation between income per head and suicide rates has been positively significant for the US since WWII, and for a cross-section of the European countries.
The picture appears less bleak since the 1980s, in that suicide rate has declined for the US, Japan, and for many European countries. However, it has risen for Ireland and Spain, and the suicide rate among adolescents and young adults has also risen in the US, and in the four major European countries (Putnam 2000:262; Lane 2000:23). The striking difference in the dynamics of the suicide rate between age groups suggests that the deterioration of well-being takes place across successive generations, although the passage to adulthood may enable each generation to improve its well-being with more efficacy."

Pana aici, retinem din expunerea lui Pugno:
1. Paradoxul fericirii, descoperit de Richard Easterlin, arata ca in ciuda cresterii economice a unei tari, fericirea populatiei ramane constanta sau scade.
2. Paradoxul a fost confirmat de numeroase ori, atat pentru SUA cat si pentru tari europene precum Belgia si alte state bogate, ca Japonia.
3. Cresterea economica e insotita de cresterea depresiei psihice si a numarului de sinucideri.

Progresul tehnic = munca in exces:
"Technical progress and improved material well-being have not induced people to
reduce their working time, as one would expect. In the US both average annual and average weekly hours for men, but especially for women, have risen in the past two decades. Since the late 1970s, overtime has increased as well (Golden 1998). However, Americans do not appear to be satisfied; rather they exhibit stress due to overwork. In the EU working time per employee has declined, mainly because of the introduction of regulations on the standard workday. However, the dynamics have decelerated in recent decades, and women‘s participation especially has greatly increased, so that the average rate of the working age population has increased as well. Canada seems to exhibit the same pattern. A detailed study conducted in Germany between 1985 and 1994 reveals that people, on aver age, would like to work less hours than they actually do. The study is interesting because it also reveals that the constraint on people‘s desire to work less does not lie in the labour market, since macroeconomic conditions worsened between the two years considered, and mobility towards greater participation by women and part-time jobs for all greatly increased. It seems to lie instead in familiar conditions at home."

Asadar, progresul tehnologic, in loc sa conduca la un numar scazut de ore de munca, a avut efectul diametral opus. Relevent e si faptul ca oamenii isi doresc sa munceasca mai putine ore.

In continuare, Pugno vorbeste despre importanta pentru fericire a relatiilor interpersonale, explicat ca deterioararea lor, cuplata cu o crestere a apetentei pentru materialismul financiar, au dus la nefericita situatie din prezent, descrisa de paradoxul amintit mai sus. Fara a intra in detalii, citez cateva dintre afirmatiile sugestive facute in articol:

Importanta relatiilor inter-personale pentru fericire
"The importance of personal r elationships, especially of intimate ones, for well-being
has been documented not only by several subfields of psychology but also by psychiatry, sociology and anthropology, and, very recently, by economics. The research methods employed for this purpose include surveys, experiments, cross-cultural comparisons, case studies and, finally, econometrics.
On surveying a wide spectrum of the psychology literature on almost 300 items, Baumeister-Leary (1995) conclude that the desire for interpersonal attachments is a
fundamental human motivation. [...]
The importance of personal relationships has also been recently confirmed by various
econometric studies. These show that marital status is the single most important (partial) correlate to self-r eported SWB index. Easterlin (2004) further points out
that the change in marital status is not completely eroded by adaptation. However, marital status is not the best proxy for evaluating the importance of personal relationships. In fact, —home life“ seems an even stronger partial correlate, depriving marital status of significance, while associationism, civic virtue, trust, democratic participation also capture significant positive effects of relationships on well-being."

Deteriorarea relatiilor inter-personale in societatile actuale:
"Unfortunately, several studies in sociology, psychology, and epimediology show that
social and personal relationships have deteriorated in recent years for significant groups of people. All the indices used incur some bias, but the quantity and the variety of evidence for deterioration is substantial indeed.
Despite the increasing frequency of divorce, whose incidence shows no signs of
diminishing even recently in the US, the marriages that survive appear to be less happy, especially if marital interaction and time spent together are considered across generations. Increasing cohabitation, from 10% to 50% during 1972-94 in the US, which would imply that getting married is a more informed choice, appears instead to have worsened the quality of marriage, and to have destabilised it. [...]
On the contrary, the evidence available from econometric studies shows a significant, although small, negative correlation both for the US and for Europe. Within family tragedies occur with increasing frequency in the US. The homicide rate of babies aged 1 year or less rose from 51 per million-population in 1974-78 to 84 in 1995-99.
Equally worrying are the data on increased homicides among adolescents. Sociologists observe that loneliness is a typical malaise of recent times, while psychologists point out that loneliness crucially correlates with suicide as well as with depression."

Iata asadar ca in anii de boom economic, relatiile inter-umane se deterioreaza vizibil si in mod grav. Astfel, rata divorturilor e in crestere, fericirea in interiorul casniciilor care dureaza e in scadere, coabitarea si relatiile mai putin stabile incep sa ia locul casatoriei, numarul agresiunilor asupra nou-nascutilor s-a dublat in ultimii 30 de ani, omuciderile in randul adolescentilor sunt in crestere, la fel ca si singuratatea.

Materialismul ia locul valorilor sociale
"This paper argues that the deterioration of relational goods induces people to shift
their expectations from relational goods to market goods. This shift is confirmed by a large body of psychology and sociology literature that discusses the issue under the heading of ”materialism‘. For example, poll-surveys on the values expressed by successive cohorts of college freshmen in the US show a rise from about 40% in the late 1960s to 75% in the late 1990s of those who rated —being very well off financially“ as a very important personal objective.
A specific stream in the psychology literature adduces ample empirical evidence on
two effects of the orientation to materialism. The first effect is a worse disposition to
relationships, less co-oper ation, and a lower quality of relationships. The second effect is described thus by Ryan-Deci‘s (2001:153) survey: —people who place a strong value on wealth relative to goals such as close relationships, [and] personal growth […] should show lower well-being“, more depression, more anxiety, less vitality, and an even greater propensity for mental illness."

Rezultatele expuse de Pugno nu ar trebui sa surprinda pe nimeni: in societatile dominate de obsesia cresterii economice, e normal ca totul, inclusiv timpul si atentia necesare construirii si pastrarii relatiilor personale sa fie sacrificate pe altarul hei-rupismului general, ceea ce duce la deteriorarea acestor relatii, fundamentale pentru fericire, si aparitia pasiunii materialiste, opuse fericirii. Astfel se explica si existenta Paradoxului fericirii: progresul economic necontrolat, considerat ca un bun in sine, nu face decat sa ne departeze de adevaratele surse de fericire si sa ne iluzioneze ca vom gasi fericirea in domenii complet nepotrivite.

Concluziile lui Pugno, confirmate doi ani mai tarziu:
In 2007, a aparut un alt studiu, intitulat "Did the Decline in Social Capital Decrease American Happiness? A Relational Explanation of the Happiness Paradox", coordonat de S. Bartolini de la Universitatea din Siena, la care a participat si Pugno.
Aici se confirma concluziile studiului prezentat anerior: scaderea fericirii in ciuda progresului material se explica prin deterioarea capitalului social, care masoara gradul de implicare civic si social. Dintr-o prezentare sumara a studiului, aflam:

"Based on General Social Survey (GSS) gold-standard data from 1975-2004, Steven Bartolini and 2 other researchers presenting a paper at Italy’s Siena University blamed America’s decline in happiness on declines in social capital (our civic and social engagement).Reuters reports that they “concluded a person with no friends or social relations with neighbours would have to earn $320,000 more each year than someone who did to enjoy the same level of happiness.

“And while the average American paycheck had risen over the past 30 years, its happiness-boosting benefits were more than offset by a drop in the quality of relationships over the period. “‘The main cause is a decline in the so-called social capital — increased loneliness, increased perception of others as untrustworthy and unfair,’ said Stefano Bartolini, one of the authors of the study.”"

Din articolul propriu-zis:

"Most popular explanations of the happiness paradox cannot fully account for the lack of growth in U.S. reported well-being during the last thirty years (Blanchflower and Oswald (2004)). In this paper we test an alternative hypothesis, namely that the decline in U.S. social capital is responsible for what is left unexplained by previous research. We provide three main findings. First, we show that the inclusion of social capital does improve the account of reported happiness. Second, we provide evidence of a decline in social capital indicators for the period 1975-2004, confirming Putnam's claim to a large extent. Finally, we show that failed growth of happiness is mostly due to the decline of social capital and, in particular, to the decline of its relational and intrinsically motivated component."

IN CONCLUZIE, ne-am convins o data in plus ca progresul economic e incapabil de a spori fericirea si ca aceasta poate fi gasita in domenii care nu se pot dezvolta armonios intr-o societate axata de competitie, consum si idei materialiste. Ceea ce castiga aceasta societate este, pe de o parte, in mare lipsit de importanta si, pe de alta parte, contrar altor surse de fericire, pe care le marginalizeaza.

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