Why the future of well-being isn’t about money www.weforum.org, 26 Feb 2019, Justin Dupuis
“Non-material factors such as social supports, freedoms, and fairness may play a bigger role than money in future well-being, according to new research.
The work draws on global well-being surveys over the past decade to project potential levels of world happiness in 2050. It suggests that, to improve people’s well-being as much as possible in coming decades, policymakers should look beyond narrow economic calculations and prioritize non-material factors when making big decisions.”
Through the WI Lens
Wellbeing in the future is going to be judged on more than just economic factors, this article argues. The McGill University researchers devised a statistical model combining objective material indicators, including GDP per capita and life expectancy, alongside social indicators such as freedom to choose what to do with your life, perceived levels of corruption and levels of charitable or philanthropic donation. They analysed how the data had evolved from 2005 to 2016, and used the changes that had taken place as the basis to project possible life evaluations in 2050 – how people will rate their own wellbeing. The result: while economic indicators could show a modest improvement of up to 10 per cent, the wider social indicators show a possible upside of 30 per cent (although there could be a downside of minus 35 per cent in the worst case). The point being that these social factors are likely to become far more important in how people evaluate their wellbeing in the future.
From a business perspective, this means that anyone investing in wellness products and services needs to understand the consumer will be looking beyond financial benefit, and measurements of ROI also need to consider more than just a financial payback – especially where public services are concerned. Consumers may want your product because it chimes with their worldview – which is something that’s hard to put a price on.
“On such fragile foundations are built the first steps towards a more ethical kind of business, and who knows what virtuous circles might result?”
“Scientific evidence recently emerged that, contrary to earlier beliefs, Covid-19 can be spread by tiny droplets that we breathe out when we respire, called aerosols.”
“Economic wellbeing is part of the story, but it is also about finding less stressful lifestyles, in which healthy diet figures as a meaningful measure of success.”
“The industry has every asset needed to be a guiding light in the shift toward personal health priority. Will that become a prevention legacy, a ‘phoenix rising’ from the Covid-19 ashes?”
“Looking at the bigger picture, putting the measures in this order represents a lost opportunity that the pandemic could have offered for a cultural pivot pivot towards getting people more focused on their health, a powerful statement of intent.”
“Employment is necessary to fulfil our most basic human needs such as food and shelter. Any significant increase in long-term unemployment will spell a retrograde step for human wellbeing like no other.”
“All roads lead to a wellbeing anchor, whether that be economic/financial, physical, mental or emotional: all contribute to a progressive and inclusive cosmopolitan world. The answer should not be a choice of one or the other but of a joined up and compassionate solution for society, business and individuals.”
“The paradox is that we continue to do this in spite of recognising that striving to become ever-more productive is an intrinsically unhealthy behaviour, leading to stress and too often, a sense of failure.”
“The same broad-sweeping structural racism that enables police brutality against black Americans is also responsible for higher mortality among black Americans with Covid-19,” Maimuna Majumder, a Harvard epidemiologist working on the Covid-19 response, tells Vox.
The take-out from this? Wellbeing cannot exist at a more elevated level without our basic needs being met.