Weather economic growth leads to healthier and happier societies or not? It is the question of current essay. Usually economic growth and development brings prosperity and wellness in the lives of individuals by improving their life style. With the economic growth of a country the quality of life improves as people have better food to eat, better houses to live in and better clothes to wear. In addition there are better facilities of education, health and recreation in the access of people. An example is economic growth and prosperity of Saudi Arabia. The improvement of the economic status in the Saudi government helped each Saudi citizen get free social services, especially health services. This resulted in a low infant mortality rate of 11.9-4 per 1000 live births in 2008 compared to 47.94 in 2003 (Ministry of Health, 2009). The current essay is a report in which the author will present evidence in support of the statement that "economic growth leads to healthier and happier societies.
There is great deal of the research related to quality of life and its relationship with economic growth and prosperity in which happiness has been closely connected with micro -- and macro-level economic advancement. One of the most commonly remembered economic sign of prosperity and happiness in an individual's life is concluded through the measurement of average annual income of a person. In the same way economic disparities have correlation with the sociological and psychological matter which include a person concerns about his/her health as well as marital struggles (Alliance for Excellent Education, 2003), problems related to relationship and attitudes (McLeod & Kaiser, 2004), and increased level of imprisonment (Harlow, 2003). These issues connected with low income level also damage the financial status of the society at large.
The figures described above support the idea that economic considerations are very important to well-being. Early studies found a very strong co relational association between earnings and happiness.
Afterwards there were more nuanced research activities which concluded that this association was strong. For instance in a survey of 7,000 subject, Diener, (1993) concluded that there was a significant correlation between happiness and income level yet this association was stronger for families with lower income leveled off at higher earning families (Offer, 1996). Rumbling Diener, Ovaska and Takashima (2005) describe that according to the literature they reviewed, "there is some evidence...that income is positively related to happiness. However, the relationship may not be linear. After reaching a level that satisfies all one's basic needs, some studies have found the marginal utility of income to be decreasing (p. 310)." In addition, it was also found that, "not only does the absolute level of income matter, but also the relative level of income. Indeed, at times higher income may not increase one's SWB (subjective well-being) at all, in particular, if all the others in one's own reference group got the same raise. That is, people tend to compare themselves to others (p.310)."
While examining the relationship of other economic factors to the quality of life, Veenhoven (2000) established in a cross nation evaluation that there is a strong relationship with the economic freedom and quality of life in a society and this is more important for the individual of a nation to enjoy economic freedom than political freedom. In addition, Di Tella, 2001) concluded if the unemployment or inflation rate raises to 1% it leads to dropping the SWB level up to 10%. So, it is clear from these findings that there exists a strong relationship between economic growth and healthier and happier societies.
However one thing is yet to be established as for each individual there are different measures of happiness and economic growth or good income level is not the only indicator of happiness. As Aristotle has stated that it is our ability to think reasonably that differentiate us from all other animals, and that in order to attain perfection in living we should live the completely rational life (Aristotle, 2007). To this end, he concludes that doing virtue and exercising virtuous character is the result of a rational thought (Noddings, 2003). From this statement of the Aristotle it can safely be interpreted he wants humans adopt strong moral and ethical values and to treat other individuals in a way that is consistent with this strong ethical and moral values. But what is moral and ethical; what is just, cannot be assessed by the individual, but instead only by a disinterested competent judge (Lane, 1994). It must also be added, though, that researchers who include this objective element to quality of life assessment, do still find it imperative to assess one's own feelings and/or beliefs about one's subjective well-being. In other words, a researcher could never determine that a subject has a high quality of life when that subject does not believe he or she has a high quality of life (Lane, 2000).
In their research study Diener and Fujita (1995) evaluated the association between economic resources, personal motivations and SWB. Economic resources for this research were defined as "material, social, or personal characteristics that a person possesses that he or she can use to make progress toward her or his personal goals (p. 933)." The research findings state:
"Certain resources that are prominently depicted in the media as being very important to happiness (e.g. money, physical attractiveness, and material possessions) were not seen by respondents as being very relevant to their personal strivings and did not correlate strongly with SWB. In contrast, specific character traits such as self-confidence and energy were seen to be more relevant to respondents' strivings and also were more predictive of their SWB. In addition, social resources loomed large in importance. For example, a strong romantic relationship was the strongest correlate of Pleasant Affect, and Life Satisfaction was best predicted by family support." (p. 933)
Flanagan (1978) undertook another study coming from a social psychology perspective, and this time the concern is not related to the findings as much as it is related to the definition of quality of life. A team of researchers undertook this study and completed the difficult task to create an observed explanation of quality of life through the collection of data of above 6,500 'critical incidents' from 3,000 respondents belonging to different age groups, races as we;; as diverse backgrounds from every part of the United States. Additionally another 2,000 'critical incidents' were collected through another survey project which was named Project TALEN. A variety of questions were asked from the participants to compile these 'critical incidents'. Instances of questions include, "Think of the last time you did something very important to you or had an experience that was especially satisfying to you. What did you do or what happened that was so satisfying to you? Why did this experience seem so important or satisfying (p. 139)?"
For instance Hughes and Thomas (1986, 1998) established the definition of quality of life by using six measures from the General Social Survey: "Life Satisfaction, Happiness, Marital Happiness, Anomia, Mistrust, and Health." The results of their study revealed that despite having good socioeconomic status, African-Americans perceive that they have minor quality of life as compared to their white counterparts. Similarly there were other researchers such as Cross (1991), who interpreted quality of life by using self-esteem measures and concluded there was no difference in self-esteem as regards African-Americans and Whites and thus both have same measures of quality of life. Flanagan (1978), in the study described above and using the quality of life themes described above, concluded that 85% described their quality of life was good or better apart from demographic dissimilarities. These studies demonstrate not only a wider variety of ways quality of life is being operationally defined than was previously considered, but that these studies through their sometimes incongruent findings, which are quite possibly caused by the differences in operational definitions, make it even more difficult to discern which life factors truly affect quality of life.
The last research study to be discussed tries to overcome all of these conflicting conclusions and definitions. Though not completely successful, it does sufficiently represent the many economics-based efforts for the coverage of quality of life from a multidisciplinary viewpoint, and acting as an additional bonus, this is the perfect example of quality of life as is apparent in accepted media. The research is The Economist Intelligence Unit's Quality-of-Life Index (2006). This 'quality of life index' is "based on a unique methodology that links the results of subjective life satisfaction surveys to objective determinants of quality of life across countries (p. 1)," and "uses as its determinants of quality of life: material well-being, health, political stability and security, family life community life, climate and geography, job security, political freedom, and gender equality (p. 3)." The prejudiced life-satisfaction surveys evaluate "how satisfied [individuals] are with their lives in general (p. 1)" and there will arise a formal question such this which was asked by the EU's Euro barometer…