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Economic Growth and Happiness in the Western world Today

Hansson, Malin (2006)
Sociology
Abstract
This essay investigates the relation between economic growth and happiness, with regard to the central position of economic growth on the political agenda in the Western world today. In political argumentation it is often claimed that economic growth and existing economic conditions are challenged by processes of change, especially economic globalisation and "de-industrialisation". In this essay these assumptions are questioned. Welfare is also said to be challenged, since economic conditions by politicians are claimed to be the precondition for welfare, which they also tend to measure in terms of GDP. GDP as a measure of welfare says nothing about happiness, although happiness seems to be an essential part of our understanding of someone... (More)
This essay investigates the relation between economic growth and happiness, with regard to the central position of economic growth on the political agenda in the Western world today. In political argumentation it is often claimed that economic growth and existing economic conditions are challenged by processes of change, especially economic globalisation and "de-industrialisation". In this essay these assumptions are questioned. Welfare is also said to be challenged, since economic conditions by politicians are claimed to be the precondition for welfare, which they also tend to measure in terms of GDP. GDP as a measure of welfare says nothing about happiness, although happiness seems to be an essential part of our understanding of someone being well off, which is the basic meaning of the welfare concept. The essay suggests that although happiness is not directly incorporated in the welfare concept when used by politicians, it might be indirectly incorporated in the sense that it is easily assumed that more wealth leads to happier people and nations. Data on correlations between economic growth and happiness seem to show that this assumption is right at the individual level, but wrong for society as a whole over time. Once a certain level of economic development is met, which has been the case in the Western world for a long time, further economic growth is not correlated with higher average happiness in society. Theories offer different explanations of the fact that average happiness has not risen in the Western world in line with further economic growth and some of these lead to the assumption that it may be possible to actually increase happiness, for example by giving more priority to other things than focusing on further economic growth and the things which lead to it. The essay ends with the question if it is justified to continue to give such priority to further economic growth on the political agenda in the Western world today if economic conditions in fact are not seriously challenged by processes of change, if further economic growth has no impact on average happiness in society and if it in fact would be possible to increase happiness in society by giving more priority to other things. (Less)
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author
Hansson, Malin
supervisor
organization
year
type
M2 - Bachelor Degree
subject
keywords
GDP, happiness, welfare, happiness research, paradox of happiness, Social sciences, Samhällsvetenskaper
language
English
id
1325368
date added to LUP
2007-11-13
date last changed
2011-05-12 15:48:37
@misc{1325368,
  abstract     = {This essay investigates the relation between economic growth and happiness, with regard to the central position of economic growth on the political agenda in the Western world today. In political argumentation it is often claimed that economic growth and existing economic conditions are challenged by processes of change, especially economic globalisation and "de-industrialisation". In this essay these assumptions are questioned. Welfare is also said to be challenged, since economic conditions by politicians are claimed to be the precondition for welfare, which they also tend to measure in terms of GDP. GDP as a measure of welfare says nothing about happiness, although happiness seems to be an essential part of our understanding of someone being well off, which is the basic meaning of the welfare concept. The essay suggests that although happiness is not directly incorporated in the welfare concept when used by politicians, it might be indirectly incorporated in the sense that it is easily assumed that more wealth leads to happier people and nations. Data on correlations between economic growth and happiness seem to show that this assumption is right at the individual level, but wrong for society as a whole over time. Once a certain level of economic development is met, which has been the case in the Western world for a long time, further economic growth is not correlated with higher average happiness in society. Theories offer different explanations of the fact that average happiness has not risen in the Western world in line with further economic growth and some of these lead to the assumption that it may be possible to actually increase happiness, for example by giving more priority to other things than focusing on further economic growth and the things which lead to it. The essay ends with the question if it is justified to continue to give such priority to further economic growth on the political agenda in the Western world today if economic conditions in fact are not seriously challenged by processes of change, if further economic growth has no impact on average happiness in society and if it in fact would be possible to increase happiness in society by giving more priority to other things.},
  author       = {Hansson, Malin},
  keyword      = {GDP,happiness,welfare,happiness research,paradox of happiness,Social sciences,Samhällsvetenskaper},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {Economic Growth and Happiness in the Western world Today},
  year         = {2006},
}