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    You spent a lot of time in Antarctica. Why did you stop contracting there and go to Iraq?..., 2007-10-27 14:20:01 | Main | christo-fascism awareness week..., 2007-10-30 17:57:40

    those anti-depressants in the ground water aren't working:

    Melonhead's premise seems to be that measures of subjective attitudes are meaningful in cross country comparisons:

    American voters are generally happy with their own lives. Eighty-six percent of Americans say they are content with their jobs, according to the General Social Survey. Seventy-six percent of Americans say they are satisfied with their family income, according to a Pew Research Center survey. Sixty-two percent of Americans expect their personal situation to get better over the next five years, according to a Harris Poll, compared with only 7 percent who expect it to get worse.

    Researchers from Pew found that 65 percent of Americans are satisfied over all with their own lives - one of the highest rates of personal satisfaction in the world today.

    On the other hand, Americans are overwhelmingly pessimistic about their public institutions. That same Pew survey found that only 25 percent of Americans are satisfied with the state of their nation. That 40-point gap between private and public happiness is the fourth-largest gap in the world - behind only Israel, Mexico and Brazil.

    The polling - and I, for one, believe people are pretty sensible when it comes to evaluating their own lives - suggests that people are not personally miserable or downtrodden.

    From the PEW Global Attitudes press release on said survey:

    comparing scores in self-reported life satisfaction can be deceptive. For example, an overwhelming majority of Americans (65%) seem satisfied with their lives in the Pew survey, as do an even larger proportion of Mexicans (76%). But per capita income in the United States is almost four times greater than that in Mexico. Similarly, per capita income in Nigeria is roughly half that in Bangladesh, but Nigerians are twice as likely to be very happy with their lives as Bangladeshis. Clearly, satisfaction with life is determined by more than income.

    This point might further be driven home by observing that in the full report 71% of Bangladeshis report being "satisfied" with their incomes but only 17% are "satisfied" with their lives in general.

    Like, if there was any meaning anywhere in the numbers - which is dubious, I doubt self-reported "satisfaction" manages to measure anything even between individuals let alone countries, maybe that they're not suffering from depression, certainly not that they're "happy" - it would be in country trends, and the information is in the form of the question "what is it that we're actually measuring, if anything?" Maybe advertising is on a positivist upswing, maybe irony is dying again, maybe we've had our fill from the carcasses of our prey, or maybe shit could still get worse.

    On the other hand this PEW survey wasn't a total waste of money. For instance they asked the general population whether they'd been unable to afford needed food in the past year (16%), needed clothing (16%), or needed healthcare (23%). This is why David Brooks spent the rest of the column discussing the interests of the crucial Sick, Naked and Hungry Children of Nascar Dad and Soccer Mom block of swingset non-voters.

    Also in the news: close to 50 percent of humanity was reported to earn more than the median income, indicating that everything is really just super.


:: posted by buermann @ 2007-10-30 14:34:23 CST | link





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