Monday, February 13, 2006

Happiness and federal electorates

A survey of happiness by federal electorates undertaken by my University has been interpreted as evidence that money can't buy you happiness because the electorate with the highest level of well-being and community is the poor rural electorate of Wide Bay, and the unhappiest being the latte left electorate of Sydney. Wide Bay is a safe conservative seat (although it traditionally has shown high levels of support for the populist right, One Nation in 1998 and it was almost won by Social Credit in 1937) so some of them must be unhappy about something). Sydney MP Tanya Plibersek onto something when she cites the income gaps in Sydney between yuppies and the indigenous population as contributing to unhappiness. Same pattern in US as shown by James Galbraith where poor people vote Democrat but poor states (which have less income inequality within the state) vote Republican. Andrew Leigh suggests we should look at revealed preference; the population of Sydney electorate is increasing which suggests people are making themselves happier by moving into the electorate. Happiness research divides the left. The post-materialist left cite evidence that high-income earners are not happier as evidence against economic growth, whereas the old left would argue that the happy poor had false consciousness, proponents of labour market deregulation argue casual and insecure workers not distinctively unhappy but others argue that insecure and casual workers lower their expectations (and this is the traditional approach in industrial sociology as displayed this 1971 book by Alan Fox long before anyone thought of happiness research). I agree with Fox.


At 5:43 AM, Blogger John Murney said...

I am just learning about this stuff in my Economics classes, so I don;t have much to add. I would say though that I find this subject fascinating.


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