Magazine article World Watch

The Economics of Wellbeing

Magazine article World Watch

The Economics of Wellbeing

Article excerpt

The UN Environment Programme recently announced that the world's consumer class has reached a new high of 1.7 billion--more than one of every four humans on Earth--with almost half of them residing in the developing world. While economists may celebrate this finding as a sign of economic growth, UNEP deputy director Shafqat Kakakhel warns that "It is clear that the Earth's natural ecosystems will not cope with the style of industrialization and overconsumption seen in Europe or North America." Perpetual growth in consumption will prove impossible to maintain on a planet of finite resources, even if marketers continue to spend $450 billion a year to convince us that we'll find happiness in the newest and "coolest" stuff. Perhaps it's time to start building a new system that centers not on consumption as a means to improve wellbeing, but directly on improving wellbeing itself.

Consider our consumption of cars, which are fervently desired for the personal mobility and status that they--or the ads for them--promise. They are desired despite the vast urban sprawl, excessive use of materials and gasoline, pollution, traffic congestion, and the millions of accident fatalities or injuries that car-centered development has brought. Suppose, however, that we could shift attention from the product that is now so emotionally linked to notions of free mobility, to the more objective question of how true mobility is best provided. A few cities have actually done this, and have gained large dividends for the wellbeing of their residents. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.