Economic Growth and Happiness
Economic Growth Can Lead to Healthier and Happier Societies
More Availability of Goods
Increase in Tax Revenues and Better Welfare Programs.
Increase in Purchasing Power
Business Sector Benefits
Economic Growth Can Lead To Healthier and Happier Societies
Economic growth has long been termed as the precursor to any society’s success, and in this paper, we shall be looking at various aspects of economic growth that are directly correlated to happiness in the society, as well as those that negate this causality leading us to wonder whether all the technological progress in the world can eventually lead to happiness.
There are various factors that impact happiness where geography is a consideration in the sense of the location of a country has an important part to play in terms of its cultural values, and the manner in which happiness is defined in the culture. The progress that the country has made in terms of the economic bloc it belongs to as the U.K. has being part of the EU; its history also plays an important part in how happiness is defined. (Megan, 2009) Consider that U.K. is one of the most advanced nations of the world and its economy is among the most progressed, therefore their criteria of h happiness includes towards a better, healthier environment; whereas, countries that are emerging keep economic empowerment as their premise for happiness.
Similarly there are variables that are indicative of economic growth are: higher availability of goods, higher income, and technological advancements, each of which are discussed in further detail below:
More Availability of Goods
When we consider economic theory, all experts have taken the basic assumption that a wider variety of choice available to consumers in terms of more goods and services available to them leads to a better standard of living and in turn makes people happier.
However it has to be seen whether the availability of goods on its own accords has been able to make societies happier. Consider the example of an economy where there are a higher number of goods available, but there is huge class divide so that five percent of the population has more than 80% of the resources. A greater number of products in the society will be available to them only for consumption and will enrich their lives, but at the same time create discontent among the general population who shall be vying for the possession of these goods which are beyond their means.
Consider also the theory of the indifference curve, which indicates that the more a person can buy from his or her budget, the higher is their indifference curve, and therefore that person can derive higher utility.
To date this has created a materialistic society where people are going after more material possessions and in the process have lost their health to stress and anxiety, given by the higher numbers of people suffering from heart and mental diseases today.
Moreover a higher number of goods mean more packaging, and more material usage that gets wasted after a use. This increases the pollution in the environment caused due to these unsustainable activities, leading to degradation and health issues impacting a vast majority of human life through polluted water, air and earth. (Fribbance, Economic wealth and happiness, 2009, p. 1)
However, a larger amount of goods and level of aggregate demand in the economy means that there is higher employment in the economy and that more people have the disposable income available to lead a better quality of life.
Higher income is part of the HDI index that measures the progress of the society not only in economic terms but also in terms of the quality of life, including access to basic facilities as well as literacy among other things.
But the fact is that income is the easiest element among all to measure, being numeric in nature by the character of its being. Higher income has been seen to be the hallmark of developed societies where an increase in the average per capita income is seen to be a sign of success for economic policies. However, this aggregation looses out on important elements pertaining to the constituent parts.
Higher income, although a good indicator on the outset, fails to regard whether this higher income in the economy has trickled down to the poorest strata of the population, or if it has just served to increase the treasures of the elite class a little more. It does not take into account the distribution of wealth in an economy, as indicated by a larger number in the middle class. Rather it simply averages out income, smoothing away indicative wrinkles.
There are several implications of higher income, some of which are as follows:
Increase in Tax Revenues and Better Welfare Programs.
When there is higher income, government also earns more in terms of higher tax revenues and in turn is able to provide better for the population. This includes welfare expenditure such as unemployment benefits, provision of homes, availability of free health and education programs and so forth. These provisions mean that there is a better distribution of wealth and that poor people are able to avail basic life facilities on the back of higher taxes paid by the top echelon of the society.
Moreover better tax revenues also mean better infrastructure and amenities that are provided by the government to better lives of people all over the country. But this contentment with the provision given by the government might not mean happiness. It just might mean the ability of the poor people to survive for a little more time on aid doled out by some reluctant individuals and corporations that are always on the lookout for tax savings.
Increase in Purchasing Power
This in turn leads the population to be able to exert more control over its life and be able to access the goods and services that they need to in order to be happy. If people have the income they can fulfill their material desires as well as access better healthcare facilities in order to improve the standard of life.
Technological advancements have been an important part of progress, where more advancement in technology generally is taken to indicate better lives. This technological advancement impacts many spheres of life including the health sector, the business sector as well as life in general.
Health Industry Benefits
The health industry has progressed greatly due to advancements in technology which have enables better treatments and medications as well as cures for diseases that were previously unknown. Some examples include better facilities at hospital, better machines, more options for treatment etc. moreover, as far as happiness is concerned, people who are infertile and want children, the greatest source of happiness for a majority of the population, there are various methods to treat the common problem of infertility.
Moreover lifesaving drugs and procedures have become more advanced so that mere detection in early stages can often lead to better and improved lives.
Business Sector Benefits
Advancements in computing and it have meant that businesses can now function much better. areas such as supply chain and management have advanced greatly on the back of technologies that enable the possibility of strategic alliances with partners located anywhere in the world, along with enabling technologies that help an enterprise operate under ideal structures such as Just-in- Time inventory.
This leap has lead to happiness in work, as most of the tedious and repetitive work has been taken over by computers leaving people to do work that are more suitable to their caliber of cognition and thought.
Other benefits include the ability of people to remain in touch with the family and friends located far away via social media, as well as the ability and freedom to express them and let the world know about their situation. The Arab Spring was one such event which truly made the world realize the power of this technology.
While it can be said that economic growth in terms of more choices, higher income and technological advancement leads to easier ways of life, and a better standard of living, there are indications that these might not lead to happiness which defined in terms of the Bhutanese government include spirituality, care for the environment, and in its wake, more contentment, rather than a hungry drive to capture as much of the world’s resources as possible, as is the case with other countries. (Fribbance, 2009)
Happiness might be a subjective factor, but it is important as it is the goal of all individuals, therefore the ultimate goal of economic progress too is happiness.
The assignment helped me put the concept of economic growth into perspective. As students of social science and economics, much of the rhetoric is about achieving the macroeconomic concept of economic growth. However this macro variable influences each and every one of our individual lives, and where it is a broad characteristic, it also is a micro concern.
Fribbance, I. (2009). Economic wealth and happiness. Introduction to the social sciences . Open University.
Fribbance, I. (2009). The changing UK economy: making a greener and happier society? . London: Open University.
Megan, J. (2009). Economics and Geography. Introducing the social sciences .
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