In addition, more “objective” measures of a successful life correspond with self-reported happiness. Individuals who report themselves to be happy, for example, are less likely to be absent from work, less likely to die prematurely, and less likely to have headaches, digestive disorders, and similar ailments. In sum, while not without problems, research based on subjective measures of well-being may provide useful information about the causes and correlates of human happiness.”
Si un fragment cat se poate de sugestiv:
"People value money highly. When asked what change would most improve the quality of their lives, individuals most frequently respond with the answer “more money.” The actual increase in reported happiness from additional income, however, appears to be quite modest. A study of Illinois lottery winners, for example, found that their happiness did not differ significantly from controls. Moreover, lottery winners report significantly less pleasure than non-lottery controls from ordinary experiences such as talking to a friend, eating breakfast, and even from hearing a funny joke. Similarly, most people think that a 25% increase in their pay will increase greatly their satisfaction with their lives, but individuals whose incomes are currently at that level do not report significantly greater life satisfaction."
Individuals exhibited much less concern with their relative positions with respect to vacations. Again, the survey asked students to choose between two worlds. In the first world, they would get two weeks holiday and others would get only one. In the second world, they would get four weeks holiday, but others would get eight weeks. Only one out of five students selected the first option, accepting a reduced absolute number of vacation days in order to have relatively more days off than others. In short, students displayed rivalry with respect to income but not leisure."
Pe scurt, respondentii unui studiu Harvard au declarat ca prefera sa castige 50.000$ daca restul castiga de doua ori mai putin, in loc sa castige 100.000$ iar restul de doua ori si jumatate mai mult. Deosebit de important este ca aceasta rivalitate nu s-a transpus si in ceea ce priveste timpul liber, ceea ce arata ca o societate in care domina egalitarismul financiar si accentul este pus pe timpul liber al oamenilor va fi mai putin afectata de invidie si competitie decat una care accentueaza importanta bunurilor materiale si tolereaza inegalitatile.
Rezultatele de mai sus au fost confirmate de un alt studiu, prezentat de Griffith:
In Society A, the relative earned 27,000 Swedish kroner (SEK) per month (about $3500) in after-tax income, which is 10% less than the average income of 30,000 SEK per month. The survey offered three different versions of Society B. In each version, the relative’s absolute income varied but always remained lower than in Society A. In Society B, however, the relative earned 10% more than the average income.
Seventy-five percent of respondents chose a 6.5% reduction in absolute income in exchange for a higher relative income. Fifty-three percent were willing to accept an 18.5% reduction in absolute income to maintain a higher relative position. Moreover, fully 47% of the respondents chose to accept a greater than 45% reduction in absolute income in order to maintain an above-average relative income. This result is remarkable given the relatively small deviations of the proffered income choices from the mean. Nearly half of the respondents believed that their relative would be better off giving up almost half of his or her real income in order to have an income 10% above the average rather than 10% below average.
Respondents showed substantially less competition regarding leisure. Instead of focusing directly on leisure, the survey asked respondents about working hours, presuming greater familiarity with that concept."
Faptul ca banii in plus nu sporesc fericirea celor deja avuti insa au un efect relevant in cazul celor saraci si foarte saraci, justifica redistribuirea averilor, de la bogati la saraci, pentru sporirea fericirii generale in societate. Exact acesta este si mesajul lui Griffith, care pledeaza nu doar pe taxarea excesiva a produselor de lux, ci pe taxarea proportionala cu marimea averii.
"Consider, for example, the tax on luxury automobiles enacted during the William J. Clinton administration. Few doubt that part of the value of owning a luxury automobile for many individuals may be found in the prestige associated with its purchase. Similarly, the purchase of an expensive car by one individual can reduce the welfare of others. Smith’s recently purchased Mazda Miata sports car is less impressive when his neighbor Jones drives home in a new Porsche 911 Carrera. Nonetheless, it is unclear whether the luxury car tax led to the purchase of appreciably fewer positional goods. Instead, consumers may have switched to other positional goods which were not subject to the luxury tax. Expensive SUV’s, for example, which were classified as trucks and thus were exempt from the luxury tax on cars, saw a dramatic increase in sales during the Clinton years.
More to the point, many goods have a substantial positional value. Suppose, for example, instead of purchasing a Porsche 911 sports car, Jones purchases a less expensive automobile and uses the money saved to purchase a Viking range, a Subzero refrigerator, a high-definition plasma television, several Armani suits, and a week-long vacation in the Bahamas. Or instead Jones might use the savings to add an extra bedroom to his home. These alternative expenditures might engender greater jealousy from Jones’s neighbors than the purchase of an expensive sports car. Perhaps Jones’s neighbor is an environmentalist who has just purchased a gas-electric hybrid Toyota Prius and who feels only contempt for anyone buying an expensive gas-guzzling sports car. In light of the large number of consumption items that have a significant positional component, it makes sense to adopt a general progressive income (or consumption) tax rather than a series of taxes on luxury items."
CONCLUZIA studiului se impune de la sine: "The strongest traditional justification for progressive taxation is that income has declining marginal utility, and therefore, redistribution from the rich to the poor can increase total welfare in a society. Happiness research is consistent with this justification and provides important additional insights about the reasons money declines in value. Moreover, happiness research suggests that additional income spent on positional goods may have little impact on overall welfare in a society because the positional gains by one individual will be offset by the positional losses of another. In addition, adaptation and changes in aspiration levels may diminish the gains from additional consumption. The challenge for policymakers lies in the design of tax and spending policies which provide lasting improvements in the overall happiness of society."