Happiness and Income
Everything that rises must converge
Emerging markets are catching up with theWest in the happiness stakes
POETS, songwriters and left-wing politicians hate the idea, but for decades opinion-poll evidence has been clear: money buys happiness and the richer you are, the more likely you are to express satisfaction with your life. Until now. A survey of 43 countries published on October 30th by the Pew Research Centre of Washington, DC, shows that people in emerging markets are within a whisker of expressing the same level of satisfaction as people in rich countries. It is the biggest qualification to the standard view of happiness and income seen so far.
The Pew poll asks respondents to measure, on a scale from zero to ten, how good their lives are. (Those who say between seven and ten are counted as happy.) In 2007, 57% of respondents in rich countries put themselves in the top four tiers; in emerging markets the share was 33%; in poor countries only 16%—a classic expression of the standard view.
皮尤让被调查者用0 到10 之间数字表示对生活的满意度。(如果给出数字在7 和10 之间，认为该调查人幸福。)2007 年的调查显示富有国家57%的调查者认为自己是幸福的人;发展中国家有33%认为自己幸福;在贫困国家幸福的人只有16%—这是证明金钱和幸福感相关的典型例子。
But in 2014, 54% of rich-country respondents counted themselves as happy, whereas in emerging markets the percentage jumped to 51%. This was happening just at a time when emerging markets' chances of converging economically with theWest seemed to be receding.
Rich countries did not experience steep declines in happiness. The decreases in America and Britain were tiny (a single percentage point), while the share of happy Germans rose 13 points. A large drop in formerly joyful Spain ensured a modest overall decline for the rich. But the convergence happened thanks to huge improvements in countries such as Indonesia (+35) and Pakistan (+22). In 12 of the 24 emerging markets, half or more people rate their life satisfaction in the top tiers of the ladder.
富有国家在幸福感上并没有大幅下降。美国和英国只是下降了一个百分点，德国人民的幸福感却上升了13 个百分点。但是之前幸福的西班牙人此次调查指数大幅下降导致发达国家幸福指数总体稍微有所下降。幸福感大幅提高的几个国家是此次汇合发生的原因，比如印度尼西亚(+35)，巴基斯坦(+22)。24 个发展中国家里12 个国家，半数、或半数以上的人感觉对自己生活很满意。
This is not to say the link between income and satisfaction has been snapped. Poor countries still lag behind: only a quarter of the people there are in the happy tiers—half the level of the other two groups. There is also a clear link between happiness and income growth (as opposed to income levels). China's GDP rose at an annual average rate of 10% in 2007-14 and its happiness level rose 26 points.
这并不是证明金钱和生活满意度之间的关联断了。贫困国家指数依旧垫底：只有四分之一的人认为自己幸福—是发展中国家和发达国家的一半。该数据清晰显示了工资增长率和幸福感之间的联系(而不是收入水平)。中国国内生产总值从2007 到2014 年每年以平均10%的速度增长，其人民幸福度提高了26 个百分点。
Within countries, richer people express more satisfaction than their poorer neighbours. The study divided respondents into categories with higher and lower incomes and fewer and more household goods. In every country in every group, richer folk with more goods expressed higher levels of happiness. So at a personal (as opposed to national) level, money does buy happiness. And if you ask people about different aspects of their lives—health, family life, religion, standard of living—it turns out that satisfaction with living standards still has the biggest influence on happiness.
But the secret of happiness has been scattered around. Women tend to be happier than men.Married people are happier than unmarried ones. Latin Americans are more satisfied than people in other emerging markets. Asians are the most optimistic; Middle Easterners the least. Income still matters. But it has been dethroned.