Allan Takes Aim Blog

What determines happiness?

Posted on: 28 May 2013

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What determines happiness?

In case you didn’t know it but a country’s happiness is measured by the strength of its economy. How do I know? I only know because the BBC news website revealed today that in the Better Life Index compiled by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, Australia came first because of its economy. Does this mean that all Australians should all stand up and give three cheers for Australian treasurer Wayne Swan? If so, here’s my contribution: Hip- hip hooray; Hip-hip hooray; Hip- hip hooray.

You’ll be pleased to know the other nine nations in the top ten happiest nations are, in order of merit: Sweden, Canada, Norway, Switzerland, United States, Denmark, The Netherlands, Iceland and the United Kingdom.

Now I’m not in a position to argue with OECD assessment of Australia’s economy or indeed from that assessment conclude that Australia’ is the happiest country in the OECD. I wouldn’t want their experts thinking that I might doubt their assessment because as I analyse the economy that dictates my life style I have to say it is anything but conducive to happiness; suicide, perhaps, but happiness – definitely not.

But just in case I was being unjust to the OECD experts I telephoned half a dozen people I know with the good news. As only two people answered I came to the conclusion the others were so shocked by the report that they had taken to their beds to save turning on their already minimum source of heating earlier than ever.

By the way I forgot to mention that it’s winter in Canberra and temperatures often drop from low to freezing and below so, if you’re a member of Canberra’s low socio economic bloc, you’re already behind the eight ball when it comes to keeping warm never mind happy.

Unlike the latter, people who are members of the same political party as Wayne Swan will also jump on the report and verbally pat the Treasurer of the back complimenting him on doing a good job. I have to say that even if the report had put Australia at the bottom of the list they would still be patting his back because with an election imminent, this is good news.

It could well be true also, that Australia is the OECD’s happiest country, but what the experts seem to forget is that not only does it take more than a good economy to make a country happy it also takes more than a good economy to make individuals happy.

So what are the constituent parts of the OECD report? Do the experts go out and ask residents in cities, towns and villages if they are happy and why or, do they rely on surveys and reports prepared by fellow experts in sociology et al. that go into making people happy?

What the OECD does not seem to realise is that a country needs more than a good economy to create happiness. And while Australia’s current mining boom may cause happiness, booms can rapidly become busts.

Indeed iron ore mines are already in operation in Brazil while African countries which have vast reserves of iron ore and other valuable minerals are opening mines at breakneck speed to take advantage of the demand currently being met by Australia.

When that happens I wonder what position Australia will command in the OECD’s “Better Life Index?”

Comment welcome.

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