Life Satisfaction and Economic Growth

Greece Life satisfactionYou’re probably tired of hearing about the Greek debt crisis, but sometimes it helps to connect the abstract with the concrete—that is, the huge numbers involved with the actual lives of the people living in the country.

The Greeks today live in a vacuum of uncertainty, with their banks closed at least another day, limited access to their funds, and the knowledge that the banks don’t actually have much of the money they’ve deposited there unless a somewhat uncaring European Central Bank decides to provide a backstop package of guarantees.

And they’re not alone. The chart, with statistics compiled by the Organization for Economic Cooperation, shows the percentage change in the “life satisfaction” of the average person in different countries since 2007—which roughly marks the beginning of the financial crisis around the world. As you can see, there has been a small decline in the U.S., probably reflecting wage stagnation and a slow recovery in jobs and economic activity. But look at the bottom and you see that the Greeks have experienced a 27.3 percent decline in their life satisfaction. According to the report, only 47.8% of Greek citizens agree with the statement: “I generally feel that what I do in life is worthwhile.” In Denmark and the Netherlands, 91.4% agree with that statement.

Other countries that are experiencing a debt crisis and high unemployment—Italy, Spain and Ireland—have gone through lesser (but still significant) declines. Meanwhile, at the other end, the German people, who hold all the cards in the various debt crises, have been experiencing a mild euphoria, matched only by Slovakia and Chile, which have been among the fastest-growing economies over the past seven years.

Overall, there was a strong correlation between the growth of GDP per capita and perceived life satisfaction among the countries studied—with a few exceptions. The people of Denmark and the Netherlands seem to have been consistently satisfied with their lives before, during and after the crisis. The people of Poland and Turkey seem to be unmoved by the rapid economic growth their countries have experienced recently. And the U.S. and Canada, which are better off than most of the world economically, have experienced a decline in their general life satisfaction. Maybe we should realize how lucky we are in our situation compared to the Greeks’.

Sources:

http://www.forbes.com/sites/niallmccarthy/2015/07/06/life-satisfaction-in-greece-has-plummeted-infographic/?utm_campaign=Forbes&utm_source=TWITTER&utm_medium=social&utm_channel=Business&linkId=15339276
http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/wellbeing/measuring-national-well-being/measuring-national-well-being–international-comparisons–2015/art-mnwb-international-comparisons–2015.html#tab-Personal-well-being

About Objectively Speaking

Tom Batterman, founder of Vigil Trust & Financial Advocacy and Financial Fiduciaries, LLC is in the business of representing the best financial interests of his clients. Having provided objective, fee-only financial management services for over two decades, he specializes in managing the investment and related financial affairs of individuals and mutual insurance companies who do not have the time, interest or expertise to manage such matters on their own. As an objective, unbiased professional who takes on a fiduciary responsibility to his clients, he guides clients to the financial decisions they would make themselves if they had years of training and experience and the time and expertise to fully research and understand all of their options. Founded in 2010 as an outgrowth of Vigil Trust & Financial Advocacy, Financial Fiduciaries, LLC is a financial management solution for individuals and mutual insurance companies who recognize they do not have the time, interest or expertise to properly attend to their financial matters on their own. While there are many financial “advisors”, most of them have investment products to sell and the “advice” they provide is geared toward getting their clients to engage in a purchase. As one of the rare subset of advisors known as “fiduciary advisors”, Financial Fiduciaries does not sell any investment product so its guidance is not compromised by conflicts of interest which plague ordinary advisors. Prior to his employment in the financial industry in financial advocacy and trust positions, he worked at a private law practice in the Wausau area in the areas of estate planning, tax, retirement planning, corporate organizations and real estate. He is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the UW-Madison Law School and has during his career held Series 7, 24 and 65 securities licenses. A longtime resident of the Wausau, Wisconsin Area, Tom is active in the community. He enjoys golf, curling, skiing, fishing, traveling and spending time with his family.
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