Not too long ago, Madonna broke from her “Material Girl” persona and revealed that there is more to life than money and fame. Apparently, we were supposed to marvel at this “new” insight and use it to create a better world. Economists are also learning how to state the obvious and make it sound groundbreaking. For example, it turns out that there’s real economic evidence that shows money does not buy happiness.
A growing body of research on the “economics of happiness” proposes that material wealth is overrated … “The problem we have found is that as (gross domestic product) has gone up, happiness doesn’t go up with it,” said David Blanchflower, a professor of economics at Dartmouth College.
Blanchflower and his colleague Andrew Oswald say that during recent decades our nation has “in aggregate, apparently become more miserable.”
A critical factor in personal happiness appears to be marriage Ã¢â?¬â?? or at least a monogamous sexual relationship.
OK, money can’t buy happiness, can’t buy me love, either. Got it. No big news so far. But the prescription is the scary part:
[Some economists] say policy-makers should pay more attention to what people say about their satisfaction with life as they consider how far to go in the pursuit of unbridled growth.
Good thing not all economists are on board with crafting happiness policy:
Other experts dismiss much of the research, noting that happiness and sexual activity are self-reported and impossible to verify. As this year’s Nobel-winning economist Edward Prescott put it: “The mind reels at the thought of the ill-conceived policies that would be concocted if the stated goal were to increase gross national happiness.”
Oh, and here’s another groundbreaking discovery from Branchflower and Oswald:
“The more sex, the happier the person.” “People who have no sexual activity are noticeably less happy than average,” they declared.