Community Indicators for Your Community

Real, lasting community change is built around knowing where you are, where you want to be, and whether your efforts are making a difference. Indicators are a necessary ingredient for sustainable change. And the process of selecting community indicators -- who chooses, how they choose, what they choose -- is as important as the data you select.

This is an archive of thoughts I had about indicators and the community indicators movement. Some of the thinking is outdated, and many of the links may have broken over time.

Monday, June 11, 2007

How much money to buy happiness?

If you've ever wondered how much money it would take to buy happiness, a new study will tell you -- but only in British pounds. (Here's a currency converter for you.)

From a London news story:

Their main source was a survey of 10,000 Britons, who were asked to rate their level of happiness and answer questions on their wealth, health and social relations.

The team, from the University of London, then placed all these people on a "life satisfaction scale" of one (utterly miserable) to seven (euphoric).

Using the information they had collated, they could calculate how much extra money the average person would have to earn every year to move up from one point on the scale to another. ...

Dr Nattavudh Powdthavee, one of the main researchers, said: "One of the things we wanted to find out was the answer to the age-old question - can money buy the greatest amount of happiness for us?"

Turns out great health is worth about $600,000 U.S. per year, while marriage is worth about $100,000.

Dr. Nattavudh Powdthavee is from the Bedford Group for Life Course and Statistical Studies, Institute of Education, University of London. [Dr. Powdthavee's thesis was on "Essays on the Use of Subjective Well-Being Data in Economic Analysis: An Empirical Study Using Developed and Developing Countries Data" (download PDF).]

A quote from Dr. Powdthavee's website: "Unhappiness, on the other hand, is having everyone fallen asleep during one of your talks..." )

I think I could really get to like this guy. He's also the self-proclaimed editor of The Journal of Obvious Results, which says it "publishes articles that have been rejected more times than the author could remember by other peer-reviewed journals on the ground that 'The results are just too obvious'. " He invites submissions.


  1. So if a good marriage is worth $100,000 and some people are not allowed to get married, does that mean that their pursuit of happiness is being de-funded to the tune of $100,000?

    Since I am not allowed to get married, I should not have to pay the same amount of income tax as people who have the privilege of marriage.

    Marriage is a privilege that belongs to married people. I think everyone who is not allowed to get married should deduct a pro-rated amount that represents the amount to which their pursuit of happiness has occurred despite the fact they cannot be married.

  2. Interestingly enough, living together without marriage is worth $163,000 in the study -- though the data may be skewed, because the unmarried partnerships may overrepresent people in the early stages of a relationship when the rose-colored glasses are firmly in place, and underrepresent people who've been fighting about who left the toilet seat up for 25 years.

    Your point, however, is well taken.