Monday, July 17, 2006

How to ask about 'happiness'

Suggested last week that Peter Singer asked different questions to whether people were happier with their high incomes today:

“Try different questions: a) ‘Would you prefer to have your living standards reduced to the equivalent of yourparents at your current age?’b) Would you prefer to have your living standards reduced to the equivalent of your great-parents at your current age?c) Would you prefer to have your living standards reduced to the equivalent of your great-grand-parents’ grand-parents at your current age?”

Peter Singer kindly replies:

“I think the questions you propose would be better if phrased as "would you prefer to live at the standards of your parents...etc"

"Reduced to" is bound to prejudice the answers.”

I am inclined to agree to his suggestions as long as the general point is clear. I have asked many audiences over many years whose members have expressed doubts about their current situations. My audiences have been from all income levels too. And the answers are almost unanimous. Nobody (but one) wants to ‘enjoy’ the happy days of their parents’ or grandparents’ income levels (except the person I mentioned in my posting below; and given the great success of his son who took over the family business ten years later, turning it into one of largest companies in the sector, with profits to match, I doubt if he would want to return to his father’s income levels and net worth).

So if Peter Singer will try the questions I recommended, as amended by him, and report the results, I am more than happy.

0 Comments:

Post a comment

<< Home