Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Researching Unhappiness

Before I find myself brought down into the trenches of grading final papers for one of the institutions I work for, I wanted to bring to your attention, my dear reader, an interesting article published in the Chronicle of Education regarding a review of two studies/considerations on the economics of unhappiness: The Economics of Unhappiness.

Realizing that there is far more data regarding what makes people unhappy,  in this article the author, John Quiggin (a professor of economics at the University of Queensland, Australia),  asks an important question: Why we don't study unhappiness. Regarding the economics of happiness, Quiggin notes that economics is not necessarily the root of unhappiness, but rather "economic activity is largely concerned with the relief of unhappiness." 

This is an interesting observation, that economics work toward the relief of conditions that can create unhappiness: housing, food, money to pay for our bills.  For me, this observation brings about an important question when we examine the statement in connection with expectations: if economics connection to unhappiness is to relieve conditions that cause unhappiness, where does that act start and stop?   That is, if not having a roof over our head, and no place to sleep, causes unhappiness then is this the same type of unhappiness that is caused by not having the new, up-to-date, iPhone? So where is the line drawn?

Regardless, John Quiggin reviews two books that may be of interest to you dear reader, and some links to their research can be found below:
I Leave you all with these two questions: 
  1. Do we have more to gain by studying unhappiness than we do from studying happiness? 
  2. How can we determine the point in which our economic concerns stops helping us relieve our unhappiness and starts to harm out happiness with over expectations?

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