Saturday, March 22, 2008

Money buys happiness when ...

... you give it away:

Spending as little as $5 a day on someone else could significantly boost happiness, the team at the University of British Columbia and Harvard Business School found.

Their experiments on more than 630 Americans showed they were measurably happier when they spent money on others -- even if they thought spending the money on themselves would make them happier.

So giving money away isn't actually "giving" it away. You are still spending it on feeling happy, you just don't have anything to show for it. Lame.
It would be interesting to see whether these effects are true for corporate as well as individual giving.
Are people happier in countries which give greater proportions of their budgets to foreign aid? Are corporate workers happier when they perceive the companies they work for as giving to charity/'giving back to the community'?

If so, it would be excepted that other developed countries (nearly all of which give greater percentages of their federal budgets to foreign aid) would show higher levels of happiness.
I don't think governmental "giving" has much effect on individual citizens' happiness. Especially in developing countries, the people probably do not even know to who or how much money their country is giving away to other countries. Even in the United States, I know very little about what our government does with its foreign aid. Even if I did, I dont think it would neccesarily make me happier ( or sadder ) because I know so little about the situation.

I think the key part in this study/survery is that people are giving directly to other people. The act of giving in a way to make someone else happy is how you can buy happiness.
So through the lens of micro economic theory, we now rationally maximize our utility by giving money away (having less to ourselves is more valuable), which means money is a bad and not a good, which is slightly contrary to micro theory...
But, since money is a bad, then this would explain why most (98%?) of the richest people donate to charity as we saw in a previous post....doesn't seem so altruistic now eh?!
I think Chris brought up some really interesting questions, such as "Are corporate workers happier when they perceive the companies they work for as giving to charity/'giving back to the community'?" Though Carrie thinks that only direct giving makes people happier, I would disagree. The reason people enjoy giving is because it in some way enhances a positive sense of self. Because people's identities are often strongly tied to their careers, if they were working for a socially or environmentally responsible company, they might take pride in this relationship. The company/job is associated with the employees sense of self enough that their association with the company is a projection of their own good will. People that take pleasure in giving (or perhaps want to see social/environmental change) often try to find work with employers who share similar intentions. Whereas I might feel pretty bad about myself if I worked for big tobacco, I might feel good about myself if I worked for a local nonprofit. What I'm getting at is that the employer can act as an extention of the personal identity. In short, to answer Chris' question, I think people very well could feel happier if they were working for a socially/environmentally generous/ responsible company.
Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Subscribe to Posts [Atom]