The World happiness report 2017 Happiness and How to end Misery.

23 Mar

Credit to Andrew  E. Clark, Sarah Fleche, Richard Layard, Nattavudh Powdthee and George Ward for creating the chapter in The World happiness report 2017 on the Key determinants of happiness and misery.

Life satisfaction and the people

Q.”Overall how satisfied are you with your life these days? measured on a scale of 0-10 0 being extremely dissatisfied to 10 being extremely satisfied.This is a typical question that is a  determinant of a populations life satisfaction.

The life satisfaction of the populace is a strong predictor of whether a government is re-elected. It’s more important than economic growth, unemployment and inflation. Probably something David Cameron should have measured before asking the British to vote on Brexit.In fact the research taken by the above researchers has proven Life satisfaction of the people within the European elections since the 1970’s has been the best  predictor of a  governments chance of re-election.

What is Misery?

Misery to many is the lowest form of happiness. In this report the researchers concentrated on five different studies between the USA, Australia ,Britain and Indonesia and identified those who were in the lowest levels of happiness which  they called “In Misery” and looked at various areas of their lives that might be contributing to this  “Misery”

  1. Poverty
  2. Uneducated
  3. Unemployed
  4. Not partnered
  5. Physical illness
  6. Depression/Anxiety

What they discovered was the biggest determinant to reducing Misery was to reduce not eradicating poverty, increasing employment or improving physical illness. It was the elimination of depression and anxiety.

It is true that there would be much less misery if fewer people lived on their own. But the best way to reduce Misery ( the unhappiest people in the country) was to reduce mental illness. It was also the cheapest. Have a look at this table below

£k per year

Poverty                           Raising more people above the poverty line

180

Unemployment        Reducing unemployment by active labour market policy

30

Physical Health           Raising more people from the worst 20% of present day illness

100

Mental Health           Treating more people for depression and anxiety

10

 

So as we can see from here if we want to help those that are the unhappiest in our societies the ones that we state are “in misery” if we begin to treat depression and anxiety we will see not only the greater difference but also the most cost-effective measure.

Does childhood matter?

Happy Kids

The answer is yes. If you want to improve your countries happiness it starts in the formative years with Children. The three areas of Child development that are key are

  1. Intellectual development
  2. Behaviour
  3. Emotional health

It is discovered that both parents and schooling affect a child’s development.  This is what matters.

  • Family income has a substantial effect on a child’s academic performance, but a much smaller effect on a child’s behaviour and emotional health.
  • If the mother goes to work in the first year of a child’s life there are on average very small negative effects.
  • If the mother works in subsequent years, however it is seen as beneficial for academic performance and does no measured harm to the child’s emotional health.
  • Parental engagement with Children through reading and play is immensely valuable.
  • Conflict between parents is especially disadvantageous.
  • But the worst thing of all for the children emotional health and behaviour is a mother with poor mental health. It is suggested that a mother’s mental health matters more than the father’s.

How important is Schooling?

African kids in school

In the 1960’s a report By James Samuel Coleman ( The Coleman report) in the US stated that parents mattered more than schools and there was no difference in what ever school your child was educated in. Modern data is proving different and the choice of school really matters especially the second level choice,The school and the individual teachers are extremely important to an academic performance and happiness. So Pick your child’s school wisely.

We all have an impact on others happiness

Each of us has a marked impact on the happiness of others. How others behave has a major influence on our happiness. An environment of crime and corruption a nd lack of trust as outlined in my last article are huge determinants on a populace’s wellbeing.

Negative child development has a direct impact on crime. The number of crimes a person commits is directly connected to child development. Education has a major benefit through the reduction of crime.

Comparing yourself with others does not help

We live in a world of comparisons and this is one of the negatives of todays society. Spending time on social media comparing our experience of the world to others does more damage than good. Feelings of inadequacy creep in. The Easterlin paradox is at play for many of us.”There is much evidence that people compare themselves with others and if others become richer than them then they feel less happy no matter what the income”

So to escape misery what should we do?

  • Countries should focus on reducing anxiety and depression in their populace it takes more people out of Misery ( the unhappiest people) and is the most cost-effective. For £10,000 a year per person we can alter peoples lives for the better.
  • Focus on our Children . Parental income is a good indicator of a child’s academic future but a poor predictor of a child’s emotional health.
  • Schools both primary but especially secondary are crucially important to a childs emotional health, behaviour and  academic progress.
  • But.. the biggest predictor of all of these is the mental health of the child’s mother.
  • Mother and child
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