Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Can Measurement of Subjective Well-Being Help Us to Assess Whether Life is Getting Better? - Winton Bates

The British government has recently taken some steps toward measurement of subjective well-being in the hope that this will provide ‘a general picture of whether life is improving’ and eventually ‘lead to government policy that is more focused not just on the bottom line, but on all those things that make life worthwhile’.

The quoted words are from David Cameron, the British prime minister. I find it interesting that he refers to ‘the bottom line’ as though the bottom line in British politics has always had a pound sign in front of it. Philip Booth, editor of the recent Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) publication ‘… and the Pursuit of Happiness’ suggests that the prime minister was attacking a ‘straw man’; the British government has always had a multitude of objectives.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Cutting Fiscal Deficits will not Help Economies to Revive Economic Activities

There are so much buzz about the fiscal policy and management of fiscal deficit. In some countries fiscal deficit has been addiction. Across the world fiscal deficit has become so popular that countries are taking measures to cut fiscal deficits at any cost. And this is what that is costing the world economy hard during this period of crisis. Fiscal deficit must be controlled and managed but it is not a bad thing at all. If fiscal deficit is used properly and in planned way this can help many countries that are struggling with high fiscal deficit.

There is always a right time for everything. And so in case of fiscal deficit too this is true. Taking measures to cut fiscal deficits at such moment when the whole world is facing economic slowdown and debt crises is not right time for maximum of the economies in the world. Instead the countries must concentrate on increasing economic activities in their respective economies. And with the help of adequate fiscal deficit this can be achieved. But one must insure that the money that is being invested in economy through fiscal deficit is well spent and end up increasing the economic activities. Once the economic activities increase in these economies, the problem of fiscal deficit will be taken care over time as the economies will not need more fiscal support any more when economic cycle is upward.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Can happiness be aggregated? - Winton Bates

My starting point for this post is take it as given that everyone agrees that for public policy purposes it is appropriate to view happiness in terms of individual flourishing. My reasons for this view have been presented in the draft of chapter 2 of the book that I have been writing.

I doubt whether it is possible to obtain an accurate measure of the extent to which each individual in the community is flourishing because some of the subjective information involved is probably not accessible to people conducting surveys. But let us assume that we have a measure that is good enough to compare the extent to which different people are flourishing in terms of a rating scale from 1 to 10, with a rating of 1 indicating that the individual is just surviving and a rating of 10 indicating that the individual is fully flourishing.