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Job Satisfaction Depends on Happiness - Transcript


00:00            Pedestrian crossing lights
                      Washington DC street scene showing the Capital Building and commuters Commuters on street

Guide Voice: Commuters on the streets of Washington DC, on their way to the office. Are they happy in their work and how important is wage satisfaction to this happiness? In other words, what makes people happy?

00:17            Vox pops
                       1) A sunny day. A pretty woman. A smile.
                       2) Having some free time and having a job that is rewarding.
                      3) I think the first thing I think about is my marriage to my wife. She makes me happy and I love my job.

00:34            People at Bank of America Cash Machines

Guide Voice: In a modern, consumer society, can money buy happiness?

00:39            Vox pops
                       1) Happiness comes from your family, you know your wife, girlfriend. You can buy toys with money, you can't buy                         happiness.
                       2) Money can't buy you friends, money can't buy you - you know it can buy you some things but it certainly can't                         buy you the things that are really important in life.

00:52            People walking in street
                      Exteriors - Brookings Institution
                      Conference Pamphlets
                      Economists in conference room

Guide Voice: Research by economists at the UK's University of Warwick, into the interplay of money and happiness shows that, while money matters, 'Rank', your position in the pay hierarchy, is more significant when it comes to happiness at work.

Now a conference at the Brookings Institution in Washington, co-presented by the University of Warwick under the title "Why Inequality Matters: Lessons for Policy from the Economics of Happiness" brings together the World's experts in economic research to discuss happiness and its potential influence on economic policy.

01:25 SOT: Andrew Oswald - "The economics of happiness is an incredibly interesting research area, and partly we don't know how the results are going to be used. But politicians all around the world are getting interested and I think that this area of study could tell us how to design social policy and economic policy to make people happier, possibly to reduce inequality as well, if it's decided by politicians from this research perhaps that inequality's over all a bad thing".

01:52            Conference delegate reading brochure

Guide Voice: So, what is happiness ?

01:56 SOT: Carol Graham - "Well happiness in theory is what economics is all about. If you go back to the work of Bentham and others it was about the pursuit of happiness. And then as the profession became more rigorous and more quantitative for reasons of analysis, economists began to define utility as sort of a substitute for happiness. In other words you measured people's utility. The other thing is that happiness is an expressed preference. Economists work very much with what they call expressed preferences, which is what people buy or what people select. And economists have traditionally shied away from survey data that asks people what they think or what they prefer because it's very subjective. And happiness is indeed a subjective context because it is vague. It means different things to different people".

02:58 SOT: Andrew Oswald - "What could be more important than human happiness? Economists for years and years have studied income, lots of what you might call proxy measures for human well-being, but really what people care about is true happiness, it's fulfilment. It's not money itself, it's not things themselves, it is psychological well-being. It is happiness."

03:18             Traffic
                       Commuters on escalators
                       Happy commuter on mobile phone
                       Homeless man searching in bin
                       Homeless man on park bench

Guide Voice: Surveys of employees' wage satisfaction ratings, show that people feel relatively deprived and less content when their wage is less than that of those they compare themselves with, and more satisfied when their wage is relatively higher. It is this issue of inequality that lies at the heart of work related happiness rather than actual financial return.

03:44 SOT: Andrew Oswald - "We know that inequality in countries like Britain and the US has gone up enormously and we're trying to work out what the true effects of inequality are on people. The research evidence coming out of this conference is that inequality is bad in the sense that it lowers average happiness. Now it may have some beneficial effect, it may sharpen incentives in society, it may make us more productive. But certainly the evidence appears to be that inequality is harmful to human beings".

04:08            End

Page contact: Tom Abbott Last revised: Thu 31 Mar 2005
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