FlyTitle: GDP and life satisfaction

Money really can buy happiness—and recessions can take it away

金钱的确能买到幸福感——而经济衰退也能把它夺走

经济学人双语版-富裕的人有福了 Blessed are the rich in spirit

GROSS DOMESTIC PRODUCT (GDP), the most common gauge of national prosperity, has taken a lot of flak in recent years. Critics say that counting a country’s spending on goods, services and investment misses the full value that citizens get from products such as Google and Facebook. They also note that GDP ignores other aspects of development, including personal health, leisure time and happiness.

国内生产总值(GDP)是衡量国家繁荣程度最常用的指标,近年来却饱受抨击。批评人士认为,它只计算了一个国家在商品、服务和投资上的支出,而忽视了公民从谷歌和Facebook等产品中获得的全部价值。他们还指出,GDP忽略了社会发展的其他方面,包括个人健康、休闲时间和幸福感。

These criticisms probably exaggerate GDP’s failure to capture the wealth of nations. Gallup, a pollster, has asked people in 145 countries about various aspects of well-being. Many of these correlate strongly with GDP per person. To take an obvious example, nearly all residents in the top 10% of countries by spending say they have enough money for food, compared with just two-fifths of those in the bottom 10%.

这些批评可能夸大了GDP在衡量国家财富方面的不足。民意调查机构盖洛普(Gallup)就福祉的不同方面调查了145个国家的民众。其中许多方面都与人均GDP密切相关。举个明显的例子,在消费水平居前10%的国家中,几乎所有居民都说自己有足够的钱买食物,而在消费水平最低的10%的国家中只有五分之二的人这么说。

Strikingly, many non-financial indicators also track GDP per person closely. Residents in the top 10% of countries score their life situation as seven out of ten, compared with just four for those in the bottom 10%. They are also more likely to feel supported by their families, safe in their neighbourhoods and be trusting of their politicians—though they complain nearly as much as people in poor countries do about a lack of rest and affordable housing.

出人意料的是,许多非财务性指标也显示出与人均GDP的密切关联。排名前10%国家的居民给自己的生活状况打了7分(满分为10分),而排名后10%国家的居民只打了4分。排名前10%国家的居民也更可能感受到家人的支持和在社区中的安全感,对政客也更信任,尽管他们几乎和贫穷国家的人一样抱怨休息时间不够、房子太贵。

经济学人双语版-富裕的人有福了 Blessed are the rich in spirit

Scholars disagree over the extent to which national wealth itself causes contentment. Some countries’ citizens have remained glum even as GDP per person has risen, a paradox noted by Richard Easterlin, an American economist. But one way of testing if money buys happiness is to analyse what happens when it goes away.

对于国家财富本身能在多大程度上带来满足感,学者们意见不一。美国经济学家理查德·伊斯特林(Richard Easterlin)指出了一个矛盾现象:在一些国家的人均GDP增长的同时,民众却仍然闷闷不乐。不过,测试金钱是否能买到幸福感的方法之一就是分析失去金钱后的情况。

Studies of the previous global recession in 2009 suggest that economic hardship does indeed lead to emotional woe. Academics found dips in life satisfaction and other measures of well-being in the United States and several European countries, though the effects were mainly limited to people who lost their jobs. Adam Mayer of Colorado State University found that among Europeans of similar wealth and education, those who had recently become unemployed and struggled to buy staple foods had the worst outlook on life.

对上一次发生在2009年的全球经济衰退的研究表明,经济困窘确实会让人感到痛苦。研究人员发现美国和一些欧洲国家的生活满意度和其他福祉指标下降了,尽管这种影响主要限于失业者。科罗拉多州立大学的亚当·梅尔(Adam Mayer)发现,在财富状况和教育水平相似的欧洲人中,那些最近失业、买不起主食的人对生活的展望最为悲观。

Covid-19 will allow economists to probe this pattern further. The IMF’s latest forecast points to a fall in global GDP, weighted by purchasing-power parity, of 4.9% this year. If past recessions are any guide, the severe shock will have long-lasting effects. Economies will eventually grow larger than they were before the pandemic, but will be less rich than they would have been otherwise. The virus’s human toll is therefore vast in terms of deaths and dollars. But given the correlation between GDP per person and Gallup’s measures of well-being, it may have an enduring impact on the world’s quality of life too. ■

新冠疫情让经济学家得以进一步探索这种模式。国际货币基金组织(IMF)最新预测指出,按购买力平价计算,今年全球GDP将下降4.9%。如果说过去的经济衰退有什么借鉴意义,那就是这次的严重冲击将产生持久的影响。各经济体最终将增长到比疫情前更大的规模,但富裕程度比不上如果不爆发疫情的情况。因此新冠病毒造成的生命和经济损失是巨大的。而考虑到人均GDP与盖洛普福祉指标之间的相关性,它可能也会对全球的生活质量产生持久的影响。