Time, Money and Well-Being

Alternatives Journal, December 15, 2009 | Go to article overview

Time, Money and Well-Being


THE GRAPHS, charts and illustrations presented here show how work practices are affecting our lives in unexpected ways.

Anders Hayden, author of Sharing the Work, Sparing the Planet, is a long-time proponent of work-sharing and other means of maintaining a healthy planet.

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In a new study, "Hours of work and the ecological footprint of nations: an exploratory analysis," published in the July 2009 issue of Local Environment, Hayden goes a step further. He finds that long work hours result in time-scarcity, which leads to an ecologically destructive mix of consumption and lifestyle practices.

In this selection, notice the major shift in work practices that began in the late 1970s, just as Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan came into power in 1979 and 1981, respectively.

More to happiness than money

The percentage of Americans who reported that they were "very happy" remains stable at around $15,000 while income per head more than doubled in the 50-year period.

Progress plateaus at $15K

The Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI) starts with the same accounting framework as the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), but it adds factors such as economic contributions of household and volunteer work, and subtracts others such as crime, pollution and family breakdown.

Source: Both of the above are from Managing Without Growth, Peter A Victor, Edward Elgar Publishers, 2008 (where charts were updated from other sources).

Top 10% has 49% of all US income

In 2007, the top decile includes all US families with annual income above $109,630. Income is defined as market income including capital gains.

Source: "Striking it Richer. The Evolution of Top Incomes in the United States (Updated with 2007 estimates), "Emmanuel Saez, August 5, 2009 accessed Oct 1, 2009.

The first map of global happiness

This map is a projection of subjective well-being--the underlying state of happiness or sense of satisfaction with one's life. It is based on the findings of over 100 different studies, which questioned 80,000 people world wide.

Source: "A Global Projection of Subjective Well-being: A Challenge To Positive Psychology?" A While, Psychtalk, 56, 2007.

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A map of the world that does not include Utopia is not worth even glancing at.

Money matters less than people think

The variance between predicted and actual happiness may have implications when career decisions are made (i.e., whether to accept a $10,000 pay cut in exchange for an additional day off each week).

Source: "From Wealth to well-being? Money matters, but less than people think." Lara B. Aknin, Michael Norton and Elizabeth W.Dunn, Journal of Positive Psychology, 2009, forthcoming.

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US students go for the cash

Surveys of more than 200,000 first-year US post-secondary students, conducted annually since 1970, have revealed an increasing desire for financial wealth. …

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