November 19, 2009

Happiness is cheap

It seems that happiness, when converted to a monetary rate, is a hell of lot cheaper than we like to imagine.
"What's a marriage worth? To an Aussie male, about $32,000. That's the lump sum Professor Paul Frijters says the man would need to receive out of the blue to make him as happy as his marriage will over his lifetime. An Aussie woman would need much less, about $16,000.

But when it comes to divorce, the Aussie male will be so devastated it would be as if he had lost $110,000. An Aussie woman would be less traumatised, feeling as if she had lost only $9000."

Do the sums folks, this is a lifetime amount - lifetime!

Puts a different spin on what divorce settlements should look like, or a breach of promise to marry.

Children, bless 'em, create more (anticipated?) happiness before birth than afterward.

"It makes parents the happiest before it happens and then after some months slightly less happy than they would have been without the birth, which is why Professor Frijters puts low dollar values on the lifetime boost to happiness that flows from a birth - for the mother around $8700, for the father $32,600."

Which puts the bleating about the "right" to breed into perspective. A round or three of IVF costs? An inter-country adoption costs? Umph. The costs seriously out-weight the lifetime of subsequent happiness!

I figure The Princess has cost me around $300K, so far. I figure I've had that much value and happiness, and then some. A surplus, not a deficit.

$8,700 is the happiness from knowing, say, that's she's never had a broken bone, or that she has lovely shiny hair.

All the rest is sugar.

Money can buy love, economists say


  1. Having an economist give us an essay on peoples happiness is a little like getting Britney Spears to teach us how to carry a tune. I mean, what would they know about it?

    It's almost like we needed answers but accidentally asked the wrong person.

  2. Come on Dan, just because economists (a) helped bring the world's, and especially America's, economy to its knees and (b) oops, didn't see that coming, doesn't mean they don't know a thing or three about the price of happiness!

    Britney can hold a tune, only not while moving. Not all women are multi-skilled, apparently.

  3. I wonder what the monetary equivalent of a child's putting his/her arms around your neck and saying "I love you mummy/daddy".

    Surely that's pricelss.

  4. The price allocations raises the question of how many seriously hard-arsed mothers there are out there Kae.

    Not that many, surely?.