Health, Happiness and Prosperity

If one’s basal needs are met through a certain level of wealth or prosperity, then one is free to experience other aspects of “the good life” like leisure and relaxation.



The Common Paradigm
Hedonism and the Rational Man

  Hedonism- happiness is equated with promotion of personal pleasure (the avoidance of pain)

  Rational Man Model- prosperity is the pleasure associated with maximizing personal gains.


These models function as a method for identifying preferences and assessing the value of any given thing.


Flaws to these concepts:

  – pleasure alone doesn’t determine value,

  – people have preferences for things that are bad for them (addictions),  

  – pain/pleasure are relative (people have different thresholds for both):
         Rational Man isn’t rational without transparency

  – rational decisions cannot be made without the ‘full picture’

  – humans cannot maximize every interest

  – gains are not equally valued

 – What people prefer/want is not always what they need nor what is best for them.


John Gowdy (2007): Beyond a threshold of personal economic gain, “happiness and income are only weakly correlated: subjective well-being, not consumption, is the best measure of social welfare.”


Specific Examples of Measurement Tools:

1.   Positive and Negative Affect Scale (Watson, et al.,1988)

             – asks questions related to satisfaction regarding each factor

2.   Experience-Sampling Method (Sandvik, et al., 1993)

             – gathers satisfaction reports over a time series

                    (ex. Once a week over the course of a few months)

 3.  Hedonic Valuation – objective measure  of subjective assessments

          People “voting with their feet.”

            – based on market trends of valuation,

            – does not directly request subjective responses.


The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (2003) defined well-being as based on

     -material security  -personal freedoms  -good social relations    -physical health