Edited by Jill Wright,I've been doing a lot of smiling since I read a story in The Age about a Sydney economist who decided to measure the income-generating effects of happiness.
No doubt because their field is generally described as "the dismal science", economists are quite obsessed with the commodity of happiness. They seem to be constantly casting their slide rules over it.There's the Easterlin Paradox, for instance, which relates to the effects of income on happiness internationally. For years, apparently, economists have been furiously researching whether there is or isn't such a paradox.
Professor Satya Paul decided that since income doesn't have a significant effect on happiness - I can't help but think that's debatable - he would measure whether happy people were more productive than others. The question that fascinated him was whether happy people could increase their income generation through their attitudes to work.Using research from the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) survey, Professor Paul established that happier people get more done at work and are paid more.
"We found happy people are more active, more productive and get less upset by the work," he told a Fairfax reporter. Professor Paul found that when other income factors such as age, education and geographic location were the same, Australians who were most satisfied with their life earned about $1766.70 a year more than people at the bottom of a happiness scale of zero to 10. For every one point rise in happiness on this scale, he found, a person's income rose by $176.67.As it happens, psychologists are obsessed with happiness too.
We try to create more of it for our clients, and I have to say, with as much modesty as possible, that we are pretty good at it. Now I am wondering whether perhaps psychologists should be recognised for their contributions to productivity and national income. When I think of all the amounts of $176.67 that our clients have amassed over the years ...