The latest issue of Foreign Policy magazine has a series of short articles under the title The Next Big Thing: Why Bad Times Lead to Good Ideas.
Under the heading ‘Happiness’, Barry Schwartz offers us the cliches of the happiness research movement: that economists don’t know much about happiness, that we don’t know what’s good for us and pursue more work instead of more time with friends and family, and that GDP is ‘our principal yardstick of social welfare and social progress’.
From these propositions, Schwartz decides to advance this theory:
Financial necessity may give us the opportunity to discover that time spent with loved ones is much more satisfying than time spent with your 76-inch HDTV. Once the crisis lifts, we may not be tempted to go back to living the way we did before, if that’s even an option for those millions who are now losing their jobs, homes, and retirement accounts.
But it is more likely that the US recession will provide evidence against Schwartz’s theory.
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