Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Are people getting happier in Belgium?

A quotation from Johan Norberg relayed to the Capitalist Ball 2007 on the occasion of his receiving a prize from the Centre for a New Europe,
"Happiness is not something we can be given, because it is not something we have, but something we do. Not something we consume, but something we produce. Not a destination, but a way of travelling.
Thank you very much for this award. Have fun. You know, Belgium is actually
one of the few countries that have experienced a significant decline in self-reported well-being in the last decades. But now that Belgium has been without a proper government for four months, I guess it is back up there amongst the happiest countries of the world.
Enjoy the rest of the evening, and remember that the key to lasting authentic happiness is simple - get friends, get married, get rich, stay healthy
and avoid communism".
The paper which received this award can be downloaded here, and a fascinating and effective rebuttal of the ideas of people like Richard Layard it is too.


Mike Wood said...

Isn't it in the CNE rules that Jacob Arfwedson has to win the most downloaded paper award?

Gawain Towler said...

An earlier part of the speech went as follows,
"I am very happy about this award, even though my theory is that it really only happened because Jacob Arfwedson downloaded my paper again and again, to avoid being handed the web award for - what is it Jacob,? The fourth time?
...I guess you didn't want to stand here and talk about parallel trade in pharmaceuticals again? It's OK, I understand"

The Aunt said...

Norberg is always a stirring and optimistic speaker. Quite the rock star. And Eleanor Roosevelt would agree with his stance on happiness economics. However he's a bit Panglossian sometimes. We can't spend our lives patting selves on backs, we need to get out there and create market access and opportunities for people who really don't have them.

Or at least this is the gist of what I flurbled at Tim Evans. The shame!

I think Arfwedsen pays for his own award.

Anonymous said...

Very flattered indeed; no, I don't pay to get these awards (or Johan overbid me this time, forget which).

But have no fear; I have other papers in the pipeline.