Economic growth and happiness.

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Economic growth and happiness.

Postby Indrajala » Mon Oct 01, 2012 12:49 pm

The NY Times has an interesting story about China having declining life satisfaction in the face of increased economic output and consumption.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/28/opini ... iness.html

"In China, life satisfaction declined as output and consumption rapidly expanded."


I believe there are parallels elsewhere, but China is an interesting example because it happened so quickly.

So, it goes to show that economic growth and "development" don't make a society anymore satisfied with life, but is likely to do the reverse.
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Re: Economic growth and happiness.

Postby treehuggingoctopus » Tue Oct 02, 2012 7:17 pm

Well, firstly, increased economic output/GNP don't mean that the lives of China's average joes get better. The wages very seldom rise more than prices do, and the government doesn't spend on welfare state more than it used to - actually, it spends much less. The minimal social benefits are being dismantled, capitalism-style. At the same time, the Chinese are expected to work at least as much as they did, and while the work pressure increases with each year, job security decreases. Their lives are quickly getting much more more stressful, in other words.

Secondly, what increased economic output/GNP do mean is that there's a tiny but very noticeable minority of the Chinese getting really filthy rich. So the poor feel doubly poor when they compare themselves to the rich (or triply poor, if one remembers that thanks to the wonders of the globalized world such as the internet and the telly they can compare themselves also to rich Westerners 24/7).

Little wonder they're feeling much less happier than two decades ago.

EDIT: one hundred and eight typos corrected
Last edited by treehuggingoctopus on Tue Oct 02, 2012 7:57 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Economic growth and happiness.

Postby Nosta » Tue Oct 02, 2012 7:45 pm

I once read a study stating that the happyness of a rich person is just slightly (very slightly) higher than a middle-class worker.
Some randon toughts:
1) The middle-class worker here is someone from a normal country. Not a middle-class worker getting poor like here in Portugal. I have to count every cent now, since Portugal is being destroyed by the "economic crysis". The study admits that, altought money is not happyness, if the person is poor or always fearing of loosing job, receiving low payments, etc, the degree of hapyness is not the same.

2) If i won the lottery, my happyness would not be "wow, i have lots of money to buy a lot of nice things" but instead would be "wow, bye bye boring job, now i have plenty of time for me and my family".

3) In a country like Portugal people are sad because of the heavy measures for controling the economic problem we are suffering. But part of the problem is on TV & news. I mean, if i dont see tv or the news, i will not be so sad. TV is always showing the same stupid things again and again, always the crysis and the money and this and that...Boring! So, best thing to do: dont watch tv news. They will just get you more sad if you live in a country with some economic problems.

4) When i am sad because of the economic situation here in my country (and by consequence my $$ are affected too), i think for myself that i am ok and in a much better situation than a lot of people and much better than countrys with MUCH more worse problems than me. I still have a job (but not my wife) and money for food, water, electricty, and so on. And i have health! Thats great! And i found the teaching of Pure Land, even greater :)

5) Another trick is to remember that there are people that have a real happyness and no money at all: duthanga monks (or the like). When i read the biography of great sages or monks, like Acarya Mun, i get really inspired. They show us in a practical way that money is not happyness. Easy to say but hard to do, but they can do it because of the strenght of Dharma in their souls and life.
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Re: Economic growth and happiness.

Postby Indrajala » Wed Oct 03, 2012 12:55 am

treehuggingoctopus wrote:Secondly, what increased economic output/GNP do mean is that there's a tiny but very noticeable minority of the Chinese getting really filthy rich. So the poor feel doubly poor when they compare themselves to the rich (or triply poor, if one remembers that thanks to the wonders of the globalized world such as the internet and the telly they can compare themselves also to rich Westerners 24/7).


I come from the lower working class in Canada, which is a stable and wealthy country.

Despite the wealth, I constantly saw how it was always a struggle to pay the rent for many people. You just live "pay cheque to pay cheque". Even middle-class people out in the vast expanse of suburbia are so deep in debt that losing their jobs they're screwed.

The cost of living in Canada in many places is also prohibitively expensive. You might make $2000/month, but the rent could be $1000/month if you don't want to live in a run-down apartment full of drug dealers and other dodgy people.

So, people are under a lot of stress. Especially parents. The social safety net is there, but it isn't all that great. You can get unemployment benefits after waiting several months, but that only lasts so long.

Despite Canada being a food exporter, I keep hearing that food bank usage is increasing. People are relying on charity just to feed themselves. There's a lot of working poor actually. You work, but don't make enough to cover food, shelter and clothing, so no savings as a safety net.
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Re: Economic growth and happiness.

Postby Dechen Norbu » Wed Oct 03, 2012 1:20 am

Nosta wrote:I once read a study stating that the happyness of a rich person is just slightly (very slightly) higher than a middle-class worker.
Some randon toughts:
1) The middle-class worker here is someone from a normal country. Not a middle-class worker getting poor like here in Portugal. I have to count every cent now, since Portugal is being destroyed by the "economic crysis". The study admits that, altought money is not happyness, if the person is poor or always fearing of loosing job, receiving low payments, etc, the degree of hapyness is not the same.

2) If i won the lottery, my happyness would not be "wow, i have lots of money to buy a lot of nice things" but instead would be "wow, bye bye boring job, now i have plenty of time for me and my family".

3) In a country like Portugal people are sad because of the heavy measures for controling the economic problem we are suffering. But part of the problem is on TV & news. I mean, if i dont see tv or the news, i will not be so sad. TV is always showing the same stupid things again and again, always the crysis and the money and this and that...Boring! So, best thing to do: dont watch tv news. They will just get you more sad if you live in a country with some economic problems.

4) When i am sad because of the economic situation here in my country (and by consequence my $$ are affected too), i think for myself that i am ok and in a much better situation than a lot of people and much better than countrys with MUCH more worse problems than me. I still have a job (but not my wife) and money for food, water, electricty, and so on. And i have health! Thats great! And i found the teaching of Pure Land, even greater :)

5) Another trick is to remember that there are people that have a real happyness and no money at all: duthanga monks (or the like). When i read the biography of great sages or monks, like Acarya Mun, i get really inspired. They show us in a practical way that money is not happyness. Easy to say but hard to do, but they can do it because of the strenght of Dharma in their souls and life.

What is happening in our country is downright shameful, brother. Os benefícios advindos das medidas de austeridade não são proporcionais aos sacrificios pedidos que nem sequer abrangem todos, sobretudo aqueles que nos meteram nesta crise. Até começarem a taxar os lucros do capital a sério, não passam de um bando de aldrabões. Enfim...
I hope you sail through these tough times as peacefully as possible.

Best wishes.
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Re: Economic growth and happiness.

Postby greentara » Wed Oct 03, 2012 4:54 am

I'm from 'down under.' The govenment insists that that our unemployment hovers at around 5.1%. The economy is doing just fine. Unfortunately the figures are fudged...it's called fixing the figures, creative accounting. Really the unemployment is around 10%. Youth unemployment expecially in regional areas would be around 25%. Men are in a worse position then women as manufacturing has all but collapsed. The mining boom has already started to decline as China slows down. Work is deregulated and casual, no job security and the unis are churning out the graduates but where are the jobs? There are at least 6 universities offering law degrees, many tertiary institutions for budding engineers etc etc Few jobs but 'no worries mate.' 'we're the lucky country, the clever country!' The corporations are in charge. Spin doctors are having a field day, the cliches come thick and fast.
I think of the words of Nisargadatta "All my working life I was a cigarette maker, helping poeple spoil their health. In front of my door the municipality has put up a public lavatory, spoiling my health. This is a violent world"
Devotee: You are sitting on a Deer hide (skin) should you show your disapproval by not sitting on the skin?
Nisargadatta "What an idea! I disapprove of the entire universe, why only a skin?"
"You do not tidy up a dark room, you open the windows first. Letting in the light makes everything easy. So, let us wait with improving others until we have seen ourselves as we really are"
and finally
Devotee; What is sin?
Nisargadatta "All that binds you"
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Re: Economic growth and happiness.

Postby muni » Wed Oct 03, 2012 7:46 am

greentara wrote:I'

Devotee; What is sin?
Nisargadatta "All that binds you"


This says a lot!

What bind us, what we are craving, being nothing others than temporary appaerances. Its craziness. Always wanting more is a key for depression.

Clean water and good food - education - needful medicine and these by warmth, should not lose its importance by decadence like new fashion things, white making skin products, masks to protect the face for sunbeams, solarium, big cars, wrinkle cream, big houses, and all things what takes minds' attention.

The job insecurity. Students try to get no one degree but 2. But then 4 doctors and 5 lawyers in a peaceful village, while many are devoid of any medical care .

Samsara. Buddha's teachings in practice can help.

http://www.equalitytrust.org.uk/why/equality-not-growth With speech by Kate Pickett.

:thanks:
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Re: Economic growth and happiness.

Postby Nosta » Wed Oct 03, 2012 6:20 pm

Dechen Norbu, indeed our problems in Portugal looks like to have no end at all! We must be strong!

Muni, exactly, this is Samsara. The only cure is in Dharma.
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