Hurray – politics slowly, slowly seems to understand that we were worshipping the wrong golden calf for the last 25 years!
At least in Germany (and to my knowledge this is triggered by an EU initiative), there is a new committee at work to research alternatives to GNP as the sole measurement for “growth”.
And, you will not belief it: Happiness and life satisfaction are slowly getting into focus!
Today, the German newspaper “Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung” published a representative survey done in Germany. There are ten fields and participants had to weight each area and their importance for political action.
And, surprise, surprise, where did “per capita income” rank?
Only place 9 out of 10!
The only area less important to people is “Enhancing life expectancy”.
Most important issues are (in order of importance to people):
- Preserving Democracy and Freedom – this seems to be of high concern and coincidents with happiness research, showing that “influencing one’s own destiny” is a very important driver for happiness. I fully agree, Democracy and Freedom offer this possibility more than any other form of government.
- Access to Work for as many people as possible – although the problem of unemployment is currently declining in Germany, this is an important topic. Again, research shows, that being unemployed is an extreme downer for happiness – far beyond the loss of income, as social ties, valuation, belonging etc. play a huge role. In most cases it is a myth that people will get lazy and happily settle themselves into unemployment once social benefits are high (as they are in Germany). Having a job is desired by most people – see e.g. women, they fought hard to get more access to this area – even those that might be financially well off otherwise as well.I fully agree that a job is certainly much better than unvoluntary unemployment. The difficult question is: Is a job even better than early retirement?
I’d say yes, if it is a good job, reasonably paid, you work part-time only, elements of freedom are in place like home office, a good boss, variety in work and the possibility for regular sabbaticals.
A modern society should concentrate in arranging the work life up to this ideal.
- More pupil with higher graduation – this is an urgent German problem. People from lower classes have few chances to get a good graduation, the school system allows for very little upward mobility only. This seems to concern people. They are right, your success must depend on your efforts and skills not on birth.
- Reduction of National Debt. Well, national debt brought most of Europe almost down a year ago. Understandable that nobody wants this situation again.
Rankings 5-8 are:
5. Reduction of greenhouse gases
6. Reduction of Nitrate excess “Stickstoffüberschuss” (whatever this is, can someone help me please)
7. Preserve biodiversity
8. Tackle inequality of income
As said, rank 9 and ten are:
9. per capita income
10. Increasing Life expectancy
Let’s see what the committee will come up with in the end.
Almost certainly, the first go will be of limited use, but, hey, this is politics! Things take their time. Still the good news is:
Things finally started moving the right direction! At least in Germany – I hope in other countries as well!