Thursday, April 23, 2015

The World’s ‘State of Happiness’

DSC00448 (1300x756)

Gorse and heather are blooming along East Cliffs, luminous against the sea.  Beyond, the Isle of Wight shines at the mouth of the Solent.  It’s a warm, windy evening near Bournemouth, perfect for a walk, a coffee, and a bit of scribbling.

The UN ranking of the world’s happiest countries is out – the Dutch have fallen to seventh from fourth, overtaken by Norway, Canada and Finland.  The US is 15th; the UK is 21st.  There are lots of interesting sub-statistics: In general, younger people are angrier, middle-aged worry more, and older folks are sadder (all to a slightly greater extent in women than in men).  Stress and income drop with age; generosity and pain increase.

DSC00449 (1300x844) The report concludes that there is a growing body of evidence on the importance of building social capital to build national happiness (well-being and economic success).  They speculate on the policy implications: how virtues  might be nurtured among citizens to achieve better outcomes for society as a whole.  Their (somewhat scary) list is:

  1. Life- and social- skills training in schools
  2. Universal access to education
  3. Specialized training in compassion
  4. Professional codes of ethics that are socially constructive
  5. Effective state regulation of dangerous anti-social behaviors
  6. Focused efforts to reducer public-sector corruption
  7. Public policies to narrow income and wealth inequalities
  8. Adoption of strong social safety nets and universal social benefits, without means-testing
  9. Recovering ethical voices who lead moral discourse in society
  10. Strengthen deliberative democracy
  11. Accurate reporting of pro-social behaviors and correcting falsely pessimistic views

DSC00451 (1300x857)I like 2,4,6,7,8,10, and have significant doubts about 1,3,5,11 – the latter seem ripe for creative division if people disagree about basic moral principals or manipulate the system.

and the value of sunset walks along windy ridges should not be underestimated…

No comments: