David Blanchflower, Greg Rusedski, Bank Of England discussed on The Indicator from Planet Money
Happiness. It can feel like a difficult thing to quantify and also kind of elusive moments. Like what will make a person happy. Is it a great job job. Is it a family is it money is it. I don't know Yoga. Yeah I've been some Yoga. Classes is definitely not yoga but still doesn't help answer our questions. So where do we turn for an answer to how to quantify and measure. Happiness economists Horror of course. That's where you go to learn about happiness right so this economist David blanchflower. He is a new study out built on some old work of his where he finds a strong correlation between age and happiness and he released a study recently. That finds that people report. We're being the most unhappy. They reached their peak misery in their mid to late forties. Yeah apparently there's something called the happiness curve so you before you reach this certain age and you're mids it's late forties. You're getting progressively more unhappy. You hit the age and then you get happier after that. This is the indicator from planet. Money I'm Stacey Vanik Smith I'm Greg Rusedski and Greg. You are the author of the Planet Money Newsletter. Right please subscribe. Please subscribe to some desperate. No absolutely not and I read it and I was like this is very bleak and disturbing and would also make an amazing indicator because there's this very particular age that supposedly was lead peak misery. It's like the nater of Nihilism. The bottom of the barrel. The worst of the worst the moment at which darkness closes in and after which apparently releases this is. Greg give it to us. Forty seven point two forty seven point two years old. You heard it here. First peak misery peak misery talk about the dismal science and today in the show we talked to the economist David blanchflower about the happiness curve. Forty seven point two and what it's like to be on the other side of it support for this. 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How did you get into the sort of world of happiness and and in midlife crises? So what does the Central Bank you care about Central Bank as Aboud interest rates inflation unemployment growth. But they're into people don't care about that they care about how it impacts their wellbeing so I started to think about ultimately What impacts impacts their wellbeing so I actually have a paper? Brian Look at Tommy. Inflation and unemployment impact people's happiness so in a sense those things are intermediate goods. What we really do care about a people's happiness so I go to it and then I started to realize the patterns in the data while guests here high unemployment high I am happiness is absolutely right and so what I found was one of the big results from this is a one percentage point increase in unemployment has a big effect on people's happiness? So that's some of the stuff that I've been doing like really basic question is I mean obviously I know how we measure unemployment but how how did you go about measuring wellbeing. Like how do you measure happiness. Feels like that would have been a challenge at the start of this research absolutely So it turns out that there are many many many many many surveys around the world that actually ask people directly. How happy are you so sometimes they say in literally how happy I you on a scale of one to ten? How satisfied with your life? I you so these schools. Well the first thing. Is that the patterns in these data. When you ask this you pretty much get the same results? Every time most people are pretty happy very few people very unhappy and the same fluid ounces occur on it but I think what what you you would say. Why does this matter when it turns out? This is currently with things so happy people heal faster they live longer healthier so you you are are in the world of central banking. You get interested in happiness and well-being And then in two thousand seven you you release this. The sort of paper a had a huge impact on a lot of people. So can you kind of sort of set the scene. Two thousand seven. What was that paper? I started to work with number colleagues leagues on trying to think about these patterns. In happiness data and three things stood out the first one we just talked about that unemployment impacts it impacts happiness being married impacts it but one of the things we saw very easily so in the data was that happiness is high. When you're a young is high when you're old but this trough in the middle so this this you shake so this is what drove it? I'm particularly interested in deepening case. Talk about deaths of despair and particularly we seem a crisis in America suicides especially in drug poisoning deaths amongst the prime age in particular not prime age less educated folk. And there's that issue around the world so that's so that was really kind of the starting point I've done this study of one hundred thirty the two countries and what I find when average all together in advanced countries The the the the deer. If you like the low point of this happiness it is forty seven and when you do it for developing countries that got nine hundred five developing countries that do before very similar about forty eight point six so around forty eight That seems to be right. And what's interesting over the last couple of weeks. I've been talking a lot about lots of people. Call me and tweet it to me and and so on and said wow that really fits my life. So you've you've talked about this a little bit but I'd love to get like really specific. So what is it that that is causing. I do think I mean like what is it about I guess it was at forty seven point to you What is it what is going on that? That's making people unhappy at that age. Well I think if you look back. I'm a professor so I've lots of young people I teach these young folks And then they left home when they come through the university and they suddenly realize there's more than one way to cook an egg but all of that is pretty dumb tough especially these days where student loans and having to try and buy a house. What are you going to do with all of that stuff? This is really hard but I mean in the sense. What's interesting about it is this phenomena phenomenon appears to be true everywhere? It's not unique to Germany Japan the US and Canada African countries. You see it in Latin America seating Thailand highland so I think it's something that's the people the people are experiencing and then eventually I think eventually I think what happens is people get real. I mean some of the work have written said when you get to meet fifty you your aspiration start to become real when I was talking to you. You're in the Florida mangroves and yes and you write fishing right and that day you caught a fish right the was it again. It was a it was a twenty eight inch twenty pound redfish toward and and you so you sent me this picture. It's a picture of just for listeners. Out There WanNA picture You're just beaming. You still have your security. I have to say this professor blanchflower so We publish this article Ray and it goes on the web and twitter being witter. I had somebody are- tweet at me. And they said this. How are we supposed to trust any of this switch? Flower guys work when he blatantly lies about fishing that Royd ride nowhere near twenty pounds eight to ten pounds so any respond here. I mean I mean the question. It doesn't really rely the size of the faith. which is what I said relies on the fact that I looked awfully happy? You happy. You're on the you're on the upward swing of your happiness curve. We're on yes I've come to see my action sir. My son having a wedding party. Today's Louisiana but your children bring you joy. The grandkids life life improves. This episode of the indicator was produced by Nadia Lewis fact checked by Britney Cronin edited did by Paddy Hirsch and the indicator is a production of.