Saturday, March 22, 2008
How are you going to know how your country is doing when your idea of measuring welfare is done like this?
Do you code the answer for suicidal thoughts differently if you get laughter with the 'no'? And there are different kinds of laughs available.
Outside the government high school in Thimphu, 29-year-old researcher Karma Wangdi recently interviewed Bhanaan Humagai, a 16-year-old high school student.
Question: On a scale of 10, how happy are you?
Question: How stressed are you?
Answer: Somewhat stressed. I am studying for exams.
Question: Have you ever thought of suicide?
Answer: No! (laughs).
Seriously, we know from Easterlin that happiness doesn't increase even when income increases greatly, when looking over long periods of time. So periodic measurement of happiness is either going to be a measure of what have you done for me lately, or is going to be used to denigrate economic growth as traditionally measured. Given Angus' observation that
the only concrete policy steps taken to raise it are (1) a smoking ban, (2) a dress code, and (3) setting limits of how much of the country can be developed....we can infer which it will be.