Happiness economics. The Economist Human Potential Conference.

I’ve learned something recently which is likely not news to you.  When respected economists talk, people pay attention.  Now that they are talking about Human Potential, there’s a chance the people factor will count in high level decision making.

Happiness economics speaks to human potential. It emerged in the early 1970s’ when economist Richard Easterlin revisited the importance of happiness in society, thereby influencing economists and those who seek their counsel to use new ideas and make new decisions to create exciting new futures. (World Creativity and Innovation Week April 15 – 21 fits in this agenda.  It’s purpose, since  2001, is to encourage and engage people in using their creativity – new ideas and new decisions – to make the world a better place and to make their place in the world better too, without causing harm.)

What is Happiness Economics?

From a paper, The Economics of Happiness by Carol Graham, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution
“The economics of happiness is an approach to assessing welfare which combines the techniques typically used by economists with those more commonly used by psychologists.
While psychologists have long used surveys of reported well-being to study happiness, economists only recently ventured into this arena. Early economists and philosophers, ranging from Aristotle to Bentham, Mill, and Smith, incorporated the pursuit of happiness in their work. Yet, as economics grew more rigorous and quantitative, more parsimonious definitions of welfare took hold. Utility was taken to depend only on income as mediated by individual choices or preferences within a rational individual’s monetary budget constraint.”
PDF of her paper here.  Also check Happiness Economics in Wikipedia.

Seems The Economist is also helping to spread this work.  Notice that cognitive diversity and emotional intelligence are on their program agenda, below.

Human Potential Conference via The Economist

Given the massive changes in global demography—billions of people are being lifted out of poverty—the demand for a well-trained workforce has never been greater. Combine that with the pace of scientific innovation, which is providing new insights into the workings of the human brain and advancing neuroscience and genomics at a staggering pace—and dramatically increasing life expectancies around the world.
Today, humankind is on track to advance mentally, physically and economically more than ever before. But there are still serious strategic challenges. Many governments around the world continue to violate human rights and civil liberties, job growth is stunted in many industries following a massive global economic crisis, the income gap around the world continues to widen, and there’s the problem of how to educate billions of new people in the coming decades—and manage their entry into the job market.
The nature of work is changing dramatically. The Millennial Generation has very different ideas than previous generations about what it means to have a job—demanding greater fluidity, more international travel, virtualization, and the need to perform jobs that improve humankind as much as earn profits. At the same time, companies also see the value in a team and project-oriented approach to management.
The days of corporate loyalty are long over; today people move around, ebb and flow. What does this mean for the future of the job market? What skills are necessary to survive and thrive in the ideas economy? And what are the perils to living in an environment where change is the only constant? The Economist will dig deep into the issue of human potential to uncover the challenges and opportunities ahead. Topics include
  • The new global landscape (population growth)
  • Key emerging industries
  • The role of government in catalyzing job creation
  • Environmental challenges in a crowded world
  • Expanding the new rules of entrepreneurship
  • The changing nature of the job market
  • The new (cognitive) diversity
  • Leadership in the twenty-first century
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Immigration and globalization
  • The future of the brain and human body
  • Financial planning for immortals.

Full program here

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