Should we take happiness seriously

Happiness is a serious issue, or at least that’s the finding of the recently published World Happiness Report. The United Nations commissioned report is the pinnacle achievement of a movement that believes that happiness can be scientifically measured over time and across countries. The report argues that regular large-scale collection of happiness data will enable us to measure the impacts of policies on well-being and will help governments create the right conditions for happiness to flourish.

The economics of love

In my time as an economist I have often found that there is only one issue that creates greater confusion among people than the technobabble we normally speak, that is the issue of love. Fortunately, the economic framework provides a way for us to understand all interpersonal relationships, including love. As a result, by following the economic lessons provided in this article we will be able to learn how to be a better partner to our current or future spouse.

There’s no place like home

Many of us have elderly relatives and friends whom we call in on regularly at home to offer help and companionship. Not only do these visits signal our love to those we care about, but they can be a crucial factor in allowing the elderly to remain in their own home. With supplementary home-based support services costing far less than rest home subsidies, this informal support also helps balance the Government’s books. In fact, home-based care is so cost-effective that an elderly person is likely to be forced into long-term residential care for clinical reasons, long before the move becomes the most economic option.

Who should pay for the failure of those deemed too big to fail

A refrain heard a bit too much lately is that certain companies, particularly banks, are too big to fail. If this statement reflects the fact that big organisations only grow to a large size due to strong management capabilities, ie that size reduces the probability of failure, then there may be an element of truth to this statement. However, the normal meaning applied to the "too big to fail" moniker is that the fallout following the collapse of a major institution will be so catastrophic for the rest of the economy and society, that propping up the rotting carcass is the best of a bad set of options facing the economy. But ultimately this becomes a question of who should pay for the mess: the greedy and stupid investors, their incompetent management team or the ultimate patsy, the taxpayer?

Frisking financiers

The financial sector is at the very core of our economy, and yet following four years of persistent financial crises there is a feeling that this core is rotten – made up of corporate welfare without any value to society. However, it is not the greed of bankers that is at fault – but the incentives that policy makers have given them. Only by understanding these incentives can we figure out what must be done.

What is a living wage?

The first job I ever had was babysitting the neighbours’ children when I was 14. My pay rate of $5/hr was almost 20% below the minimum wage, but that only applied to people over 20 anyway. Besides, the kids generally weren’t any trouble, so I was happy to be paid $5/hr to basically do my homework and watch Beverley Hills 90210.

An economist’s guide to drinking responsibly

If there is anything this World Cup has shown me it’s that I enjoy the occasional drink. While this is all well and good, I often find that my plans to only have one or two drinks while watching the game fall apart – and that I end up severely regretting the excessive drinking the next day. Luckily, economists have studied this issue in detail. Let me share with you why economists believe this issue exists, and how we can use this knowledge to improve our drinking experiences.