Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Standard of Living Vs. Quality of Life

Sometimes I think I focus too much on my standard of living, rather than my quality of life.

Ditto when I'm thinking of people in other countries. Just because they have less money than we do, are they necessarily less happy?

Of course, if someone is destitute and starving, that would be a situation where standard of living impacts quality of life. But above that, does money really make us happier?

There's no evidence that it does.


Robert said...

I completely agree. Our civilization has reached a unique point where our high standard of living is degrading our quality of life. This is because it is impacting both our intertwined physical and social environments. Granted, a certain standard of living is needed to meet our basic human needs such as food and shelter.

However, the way we now produce and consume food, and construct and live in our homes is affecting the glboal commons. A problem may be that as the physical commons changes (e.g. climate change and pollution) poorer people are most vulnerable.

Luckily, I think that wealthy people, who are most responsible for deleterious changes to the commons, are affected by impacts on the social commons. For example, presently they are touched more by hearing stories of environmental injustice than by experiencing contaminated water, higher food prices, or air pollution. This will push them to act differently (hopefully). If not, they will be forced to change once the environmental degradation becomes so severe that it affects them physically. The growing surge in environmental issues I think is a testament that this is now happening.

Holistic Economy said...

Wow! Great points in this post, Robert. I agree with everything you've said. I do think that the wealthiest among us will make the changes necessary and move towards enriching the social commons once they feel the effects on their own lives.

An example of this is a story that I heard about John Doerr, a venture capitalist in Silicon Valley. He was asked why he has switched to funding renewable energy companies instead of just software companies. His answer was that his daughter sat in his lap and cried because she was so worried about what global warming would do to the earth by the time she reached adulthood. This time with his daughter changed his mind about how he should run his VC business, and has made a big difference in the entire investment community as a result.