We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

So… people’s “wellbeing” is better in Albania than the UK or France?

When I read ‘studies’ like this one, I just marvel at what loaded assumption they must be using.

The Boston Consulting Group has just released its assessment on sustainable economic development, which gives each country in Europe a figure (it calls it a “growth-to-wellbeing coefficient”) based on how much residents feel the benefits of an expanding economy. The better it is at converting growth into wellbeing, the higher the number.

At the very top of the list is Poland with a coefficient of 1.55, with many of the other Eastern European countries dominating the top of the list, such as Croatia, Bosnia, Albania and Ukraine. Germany comes in fifth place with a coefficient of 1.34.

I wonder if they check their assumptions by taking a random sample of one hundred random people in (say) Birmingham and Tirana, or Lyon and Odessa and offering them the opportunity to swap places? What do you think the result of that might be, eh?

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16 comments to So… people’s “wellbeing” is better in Albania than the UK or France?

  • No, really, that result makes perfect sense. Diminishing marginal utility of wealth! If you’re desperately poor, an added hundred dollars has very high utility and adds a lot to your welfare. If you’re reasonably comfortable, an added hundred dollars is nice but not life-changing. If you’re rich, you may hardly notice it. Well, which countries do you think have more desperately poor people to whom a bit of added economic output makes a big difference?

    The joker in this deck isn’t the claim, which is a truism, but the spin they’re putting on it, which is to treat a measure of an undesirable condition as if it were a measure of a desirable one.

  • rxc

    What they want is for the countries like Germany, France, and the UK to be consuming at the same level as Albania. They are using social “science” to try to make a post-modern argument that we would all be better off, and feel much better, if we were all poor. Except, of course, for those who actually perform these studies – they are the Smart People who will watch over the rest of us, and they will not be grubbing for food.

  • Those who can see
    Don’t need no one to cross the street
    Be careful who you’re pushing round
    We just might find you obsolete

    Steppenwolf, “Power Play”

  • Albania is a surprisingly nice place, actually. Much, much poorer than here, though.

  • Paul Marks

    Loaded assumptions. The result of the expensive “education” of the Boston consultants.

  • Regional

    Why is there mass immigration from eastern Europe to western Europe notably England?

  • Rich Rostrom

    Are they investigating attitudes toward economic level or economic growth? It would make sense for Albanians to be happier about growth, as they need it more.

  • Nicholas (Self-Sovereignty) Gray

    Hey, Albania is home to some shady characters! Lord Voldemort didn’t go there for no reason! (And I wonder if he left some of his bloodline in Albania, future Voldemorties?) Still, with all that access to magic, no wonder they’re happy!

  • William H. Stoddard nails it. Of course an Albanian feels more happy with the economic growth that delivers electricity to his village for the first time than a Frenchman feels about the Paris Metro Line 1 being upgraded: Albania is starting from a much lower base.

  • Mr Black

    Every time I see a survey of this nature I assume that it is leftist propaganda complete with conclusions about how people in countries with more socialism are happier. I don’t think I’ve been wrong yet.

  • RAB

    Talking of swapping places, I gather that the second most spoken language in the UK after English, is Polish.

  • Mary Contrary

    Of course an Albanian feels more happy with the economic growth that delivers electricity to his village for the first time than a Frenchman feels about the Paris Metro Line 1 being upgraded: Albania is starting from a much lower base.

    Absolutely. We just need to join battle on the spin.

    Our opponents use “studies” like these to support their mendacious claim that people in poor countries are happier and generally better off. We should point to the same studies as support for our claim that passing laws and regulations that retard economic growth hurts the poor most, as the poorer you are, the more you value getting a bit less poor.

  • Tedd

    I don’t think we should skewer the study. While it does have the usual progressivist tripe in the text, the charts clearly show what a reasonable person would expect: that people are happier in wealthier countries, but also that (per William) the increase in happiness with each increase in wealth also drops off as wealth increases. None of this is surprising, but it’s still worthwhile having actual data.

    Forget the CITY A.M. article. It’s only useful as a means of finding the source report.

  • jsallison

    Okay, my eyes rolled back in my head before the end of the first sentence in the block quote. Can we just take a bat to them (cricket, rounders, baseball, no matter)?

  • jsallison

    I’ve an aluminum one that makes a nice ring when contacting a dense object at a significant velocity. Almost musical. Does anyone make aluminum cricket bats?

  • Laird

    The first clue that this is not a serious study is the word “sustainable” in the opening sentence. The only sort of economic development which is not sustainable is government spending. Which, of course, is precisely the sort these types prize most.

    When you dig into the details of this alleged study you find more of the same. “The third element, sustainability, comprises four dimensions that include 15 indicators.” And two of those four dimensions are (you guessed it) “income equality” and “environment”. Distortion and irrationality are inevitable.