Sustainability and Well-Being: A Happy Synergy
- 66 Downloads
The new science of ‘happiness’ is revolutionizing our ability to measure social progress. Factors such as meaningful relationships and a sense of purpose and belonging have been shown to be essential to human well-being; indeed, they contribute even more than income. The happiest societies foster dignity for all, in part through robust investment in public goods and a holistic approach to education. This converging body of research indicates that well-being and ecological sustainability, goals sometimes viewed as contradictory, are in fact complementary. Emphasizing social drivers of well-being counters the conventional focus on economic growth and fosters the pro-social attitudes and behaviors necessary to live in better balance with nature. Fortuitously, recent technological innovations that make knowledge and productive capacity widely available at little cost and promote creative and collaborative activity could facilitate a transition to a world of reduced environmental stress and enhanced human well-being. An affirmative vision of a future both resilient and fulfilling, rather one of dour work and sacrifice, should guide our way.
KeywordsWell-being Life satisfaction Happiness Sustainability Income Inclusiveness Transformation Growth
This article was originally published by the Great Transition Initiative at http://www.greattransition.org, under a Creative Commons BC-NC-ND copyright, held by the Tellus Institute.
- Barrington-Leigh, Christopher. 2010. Inequality and subjective well-being. Working paper, UBC Economics, University of British Columbia.Google Scholar
- Exton, Carrie, Conal Smith and Damien Vandendriessche. 2015. Comparing happiness across the world: Does culture matter? Working paper, OECD Statistics Working Paper, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, November 5.Google Scholar
- Helliwell, John, and Christopher Barrington-Leigh. 2011. How much is social capital worth? In The social cure: Identity, health, and well-being, ed. Jolanda Jetten, Catherine Haslam, and S.Alexander Haslam, 55–71. Milton Park: Psychology Press.Google Scholar
- Helliwell, John, Christopher Barrington-Leigh, Andy Harris, and Haifang Huang. 2010. International evidence on the social context of well-being. In International differences in well-being, ed. Ed Diener, John Helliwell, and Daniel Kahneman, 213–229. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Helliwell, John, Richard Layard and Jeffrey Sachs (eds.). 2012. World happiness report. New York: SDSN, http://worldhappiness.report/ed/2012/.
- Layard, Richard, Dan Chisholm, Vikram Patel, and Shekhar Saxena. 2013. Mental illness and unhappiness. In World happiness report 2013, ed. John Helliwell, Richard Layard, and Jeffrey Sachs, 38–53. New York: Sustainable Solutions Development Network.Google Scholar
- OECD. 2013. OECD guidelines on measuring subjective well-being. Paris: OECD Publishing.Google Scholar
- Rifkin, Jeremy. 2014. The zero marginal cost society: The internet of things, the collaborative commons, and the eclipse of capitalism. New York: St. Martin’s Press.Google Scholar
- Stevenson, Betsy and Justin Wolfers. 2008. Economic growth and subjective well-being: Reassessing the easterin paradox. Working paper, National Bureau of Economic Research.Google Scholar
- Stiglitz, Joseph Amartya Sen and Jean-Paul Fitoussi. 2009. Report by the commission on the measurement of economic performance and social progress. Paris: National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies, http://library.bsl.org.au/jspui/bitstream/1/1267/1/Measurement_of_economic_performance_and_social_progress.pdf.
- UK Office for National Statistics. 2011. Measuring what matters: National statistician’s reflections on the national debate on measuring national well-being. Newport, South Wales: Office for National Statistics, https://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/guide-method/user-guidance/well-being/publications/measuring-what-matters–national-statistician-s-reflections-on-the-national-debate-on-measuring-national-well-being.pdf.