Tuesday, March 21, 2017

U.S. Lowers in Happiness Rating. Why does it matter?

Happiness, elusive and often ignored component of economic success. The happiness rating of the U.S. just moved down from 13 to 14 this year according to the World Happiness Report. It slid from 11 to 14 since the beginning of the report in 2012. The report focused on perceptions as they relate to income, health, social connections, reliance, freedom, trust and corruption of business and government.

In wealthier countries like the U.S., physical and mental health as well as relationship quality seems to be the most important factor for happiness. Poorer countries seek out money as an important contributor to their happiness. The results seem to make sense that once our basic needs are met money has diminished utility.

The study does help us consider how important it is to develop meaningful relationships with others and find ways to improve our lives. Many Americans are simply unaware of what makes them happy, don't reflect on their lives, and have lost touch with relatives. We are focused on making money without adequate work-life balance.

As a country we should consider the importance of happiness and how it impacts our nations health and economy.  Happy citizens cost less from a medical perspective-lowering the need for expensive social healthcare programs. Likewise, healthier citizens are more productive and spend more of their excess capital leading to improvements in the labor market and economic growth.

Popular benchmarks such as GNP, and GDP are important but don't tell the whole story. Viewing how people feel from a happiness perspective leads to greater social stability and "togetherness". We are are more than dollar signs and our happiness is important to maintaining our way of life and values as a nation. Considering the many transformations we went through, our economic happiness matters to our vitality as a nation.

Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) (2019). World Happiness Report 2017. Retrieved

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