May 04, 2003
Notes: Sisyphus Shrugged

Sisyphus Shrugged has some wise reflections on William Bennett's vices....

Posted by DeLong at 01:07 PM

August 16, 2002
Determinants of Subjective Well-Being

Serendipity. John F. Helliwell has found a large cross-country dataset covering subjective feelings of well being, and mucks about in it. I found four things in his paper especially worthy of note: improvement in the quality of government in Belarus (-.76) to that of Hungary (+.87) would (if the relation were causal) increase the average well-being of a citizen of Belarus by more than marriage, by about as much as the combined effect of religious belief and church attendance, and by almost as much as moving from the bottom to the top decile in the country's income distribution. ...individuals who think that cheating on taxes is wrong have higher subjective well-being... well-being is systematically higher if they live in a society in which people generally think that it is wrong to cheat.... People who cheat appear to be less happy. Widespread acceptance of cheating lowers average satisfaction, whatever one's own willingness... ... the well-documented benefits of education [for happiness] appear to flow less through a direct impact on life satisfaction than through its positive effects on the creation and maintenance of human and social capital... As can be seen, the well-being effects of living in higher-income countries are small......

Posted by DeLong at 01:40 PM

August 15, 2002

At what level of material wealth does one become, completely, totally, utterly sated? How much stuff--how many things--how much power to buy and control does one have to have before one can say "enough is enough," stop playing the game for increased wealth, and start playing some other, different game? Here is discouraging psychological evidence from publishing magnate and Rolling Stone founder Jann Wenner. It turns out that--at least as far as he is concerned--wealth in nine figures isn't enough yet to make him not care... Premium Blend: A group weblog from the editors of Corante: What's your number? How much is enough? It may be more than you think: ''I had a fascinating conversation recently with Jann Wenner, the founder of Rolling Stone. Here's a guy who's probably got three or four hundred million dollars--he's got a Gulfstream II and a house here and a house there, and you can't imagine what trappings he could want from the next level. But he's got this gleam in his eye because he's telling me about how he spent the weekend with Paul Allen. He said that Paul Allen didn't have a GII, he had two 757s. They flew over to, like,...

Posted by DeLong at 08:10 PM