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Autor: anton • November 11, 2010 • 1,366 Words (6 Pages) • 451 Views
Wealth makes people happy.
This is a statement that, for many centuries, people took for granted. And my thought is
that the majority of them still believe in it even now. One of the main reasons for that, at
least in the modern times, is the image of happiness that is promoted everywhere in the
We are 6 billions of customers and that is why we Ð²Ð‚?have toÐ²Ð‚™ be persuaded to buy. And
what is the best motivator the advertisers use in order to make us purchase a certain
thing? Ð²Ð‚?Buy our product and you will be happyÐ²Ð‚™. Even though now this message is not
that explicit, it is not very difficult to infer it after watching the commercial/seeing the
newspaper ad. Suddenly, everyone starts smiling and enjoying themselves and every
frown and grimace disappears. They are happy. And all this thanks to the new brand of
orange juice Ð²Ð‚" Ð²Ð‚?with up to 20% pulpÐ²Ð‚™.
When you put the words Ð²Ð‚?buyÐ²Ð‚™ and Ð²Ð‚?happyÐ²Ð‚™ in the same sentence and keep it in mind for
a while, it does not take too much time until you notice that in order to be happy you have
to have money. But still that is not enough - theyÐ²Ð‚™re quite useless if you just own them.
YouÐ²Ð‚™ve got to $pend them.
We can then conclude that, in a consumer society like the one we live in, people use this
correlation between wealth and happiness as their motivation to work more and to
acquire a big number of material goods, thinking this is the best (if not the only) way to
increase their subjective well being.
Previous findings have shown that rich people are, on average, not happier than the rest
(nor the poor are less happy) and consequently, material wealth is not such a strong factor
to influence peopleÐ²Ð‚™s subjective well being.
Lately people have become more and more interested in studying the determinants of
happiness and how they could maximize their effects.
One of the most renowned researchers in this new field is Baron Richard Layard, a
previously well-known economist that decided to concentrate his attention on the study of
happiness, being one of the pioneers of what it is called Ð²Ð‚?Happiness ResearchÐ²Ð‚™
In his book, Ð²Ð‚?Happiness Ð²Ð‚" Lessons from a new scienceÐ²Ð‚™, he looks at peopleÐ²Ð‚™s Ð²Ð‚?subjective
well beingÐ²Ð‚™ from a very practical perspective. The book is divided into 2 parts: Ð²Ð‚?Part one
Ð²Ð‚" The problemÐ²Ð‚™ and Ð²Ð‚?Part 2 Ð²Ð‚" What can be done?Ð²Ð‚™ and tries not only to identify the issues
people have while pursuing their happiness but also to give answers to those concerns.
Throughout the book, some of the chapters deal with the matters of economics or money
and wealth and their effects on happiness. Out of them, the fourth one, Ð²Ð‚?If youÐ²Ð‚™re so rich,
why arenÐ²Ð‚™t you happy?Ð²Ð‚™ is the most important from the perspective of the present paper. It
mainly deals with the matter of income and how its perception and variations influence
peopleÐ²Ð‚™s happiness. The chapter is well structured, offering quite a number of examples
of real-world studies and surveys with empirical evidence for what the author is saying.
But we must not forget that this is a book for the masses and it aims at being easy to
understand by as many people as possible and that is why we cannot require of it to have
the rigor of a real scientific paper.
In the introduction, to illustrate the point he tries to make throughout the chapter, the
author asks the reader to choose between two imaginary worlds, one in which he could
earn more, on an absolute scale, but less compared to other people, and the other in which
exactly the opposite was true. The answer to this question is the key to making sense of
the whole first part of this chapter Ð²Ð‚" people are happier when they earn more than
neighbors or friends. People compare themselves with their neighbors and their friends,
but also with what they are used to getting.
Moving one to the next part of the chapter, Ð²Ð‚™Social ComparisonÐ²Ð‚™ the author leads us even
deeper in the concept of relativity he began to illustrate in the introduction. Using very
inspired examples he shows how it is only our perception of things that determines
whether we are more or less happy.
It talks about reference groups and how a shift in this aspect of our life can change a lot
in our happiness, giving the example of East Germany after 1990, when instead of feeling
better because their wages went up, people started comparing themselves with