February 20, 2015

The Happiness Paradox in the Philippines

Kadayawan Festival By GinaD (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Before discussing happiness, I want to define the meaning of paradox. Paradox in simple terms is an event where normal expected result does not show up; what comes up is something not normally expected.

Philippines is one of the few countries where majority of people are perceived to be happy. There is a paradox in this case – some economists equate happiness to well-being. How come a low income country like Philippines has higher happiness index compared to U.S. with high income people? Some economist associate well-being or quality of life to income; the higher the income the higher the well-being – the more happy you are.

The scenario above is a paradox. A poor country like Philippines with low income has happy people. My personal opinion on this is that, well-being is different from happiness. One could choose to be happy whatever his status in life (poor, middle class, and upper class); it is a subjective choice which each person has control. On the other side, well-being speaks of the quality of the economy; the quality of life in the country.

Well-being is much larger than happiness; happiness is part of well-being. One could be happy but has poor quality of life - which is much exemplified in the Philippines; the slum area is a good example. You would see happy faces but the quality of life is poor - health care, standard housing, and basic food security are low. Another example, if I ask a poor person how happy he is, he might say that he is "very happy", but if I ask him how good is his life rating it from 1 to 10 – he might give me a number of "5".

Thus, if this is the case in a country, the study of happiness should be assigned to psychologist. Well-being should be the main concern of economic observers which can be improved through implementation of right projects and policies.

1 comment:

  1. Higher income does not mean that you will be ultimately happy, but each person can always chose to be happy.


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