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.
What this article goes on to explain is how positive thinking – described here as ‘thriving’ – can counter the effects that come from the negativity outlined above, from reduced memory to diminished performance. Based on studying people in a series of organisations in different industries, one of the authors has found that people who attain this state are more resilient, experience less burnout, and are more confident in their ability to take control of a situation
“Behind the jargon what this is really about is how we address the challenge of biodiversity under threat, move away from fossil materials like plastic and concrete, and use nature in a sustainable way, all of which could be summed up by “living in harmony with nature”.”
“In the new ‘consensual contract’ between employer and worker, what’s required is a commitment from the employer to safeguard the wellbeing of their people, and a commitment in return from employees to take personal responsibility for their performance of their job.”
“Could loneliness not only be damaging our mental and physical health but also be making the world a more aggressive, angry place? And if so, what are the implications for a cohesive society and democracy?”
“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.”