“Some News Leaves People Knowing Less”

That’s the conclusion reached by social scientists based on polling results released by Fairleigh Dickinson University’s PublicMind Poll released on November 21, 2011.  They state, “the poll asked New Jerseyans about current events at home and abroad, and from what sources—if any—they get their information. The conclusion: Sunday morning news shows do the most to help people learn about current events while some outlets, especially Fox News, lead people to be even less informed than those who say they don’t watch any news at all.” Continue reading »

How Much Money Do People Need to Live?

Wider Opportunities for Women just released a report that defines economic security and concludes that many families earn less than what is needed. In its April 1st press release, WOW stated: “The national Basic Economic Security Tables TM (BEST) Index, developed by Wider Opportunities for Women (WOW), a national organization that works to achieve economic independence for women and their families, finds that single workers need $30,012 a cialis hearing loss year – nearly twice the federal minimum wage – to cover basic expenses. buying viagra in mexico Single-parents require nearly twice the income ($57,756) to support two children, while dual-income households with children require $67,920.” WOW Press Release Full report Continue reading »

Explaining the Declining Crime Rate

Economists Donohue and Levitt (2001) claim that legalizing abortions explains the drop in crime rates, reasoning that legalization allowed women to avoid childbirth until they were in a position to care for their children. The underlying assumption is that unwanted babies growing up with mothers who are not ready to care for them are likely to become violent criminals. This assumption, however, is just an assumption; the authors do not provide evidence to support it. The political spin here is that if there is a relationship between abortions and crime reduction, those who support a woman’s right to choose might argue that restricting access to abortions would have an unintended consequence of increasing future crime rates. Continue reading »

Is It Government’s Job to Make Us Happy?

I came across Arthur C. Brooks’ book : Gross National Happiness: Why Happiness Matters For America—And How We Can Get More Of It, published in 2008

From a research perspective, we have to first ask what is happiness, whether it can be measured and if so, how. “Happiness is measurable,” Brooks states. (p.9).  Really?  In my world, I operate with a general guiding principle that says concepts like happiness do not lend themselves to objective measurement. He uses surveys that have asked  people to report their perceptions about their happiness. This is self-reported data and it is as good as it is going to get.  Surveys are a valid methodology and we can track people’s self-reports over time. We tend to assume that any problems with the self-reported data will balance out over time.

One premise of his research is that is a connection between large governmental policies and people’s perceptions about their happiness. Do you think that is the case?

Looking at 30 years of data, the self-reported levels of happiness do not vary much over time. Analysis of the General Social Survey (a very large national survey) found that in 1972, 30% reported being “very happy” and 53% reported being “pretty happy.” In 2002, 30% reported being “very happy” and 57% reported being “pretty happy.” (See table 1, p. 213). It is worth noting that even a national tragedy like 9/11 did not appear to impact self-reported levels of happiness. Continue reading »

Brooks: Most Americans Regret They Can’t Work More. Really?

From Arthur C. Brooks, Gross Domestic Happiness:-Advice to policy makers: We should celebrate our work, not impose greater leisure. (p. 202). One piece of is there a generic cialis evidence is survey data that shows that the overwhelming majority of Americans surveyed are satisfied with their jobs. I remember being surprised when viagra mail order analyzing surveys of federal employees that also showed the overwhelming majority reported being satisfied. However, if you looked at responses to does generic viagra work other survey questions, you saw dissatisfaction with pay, micro-management, poor management, and other quality of worklife factors. I concluded that people were satisfied with the work they actually did despite their dissatisfaction with the other qualities of their workplace. He then presents data that shows that people who are satisfied with work are more likely to be happy than those who are not satisfied. He states, “the data are overwhelmingly clear that for most Americans, work in and of itself brings happiness.”( p. 159). While there may be an association between job satisfaction and happiness in life (and he provides no such measure in his analysis), association does not mean the relationship is causal nor does it indicate which one is the causal variable. It is possible that people who are generally happy with life are more likely to be resilient in facing challenges at work and therefore report feeling satisfied. viagra vs cialis Brooks goes on to state, “Most Americans regret they can’t work more, not that they best canadian online pharmacy reviews can’t work less,” The data? He reports a 1998 study that found “only 11 percent of the American workers said they wished they could spend much less time on their paid work—versus 12 percent who said they could spend much more time on it.” (p. 159). Continue reading »

Kids and Happiness

Driving home before Mothers’ Day, I was listening to NPR and heard a story about how people with children were less happy than people without children. That caught my attention. A quick search on the internet did not find any current study but there was an article in Newsweek in July 7-14 2008 edition that cited several studies which all confirmed this seeming fact. For example, Robin Simon, a sociology professor from Florida State University, looked at data from the National Survey of Families and Households (n=13,000) and concluded: “In fact, no group of parents—married, single, step or even empty nest—reported significantly greater emotional well-being than people who never had children.” Author Arthur C. Brooks reports “parents are about 7 percentage points less likely to report being happy than the childless.” If this is the case, then why do people have children? Continue reading »