Growth, Well-being and Quality of Life

Guest lecture with promising title by Prof. Dr. Christoph M. Schmidt, but was it really that good? It really depends, but I had definitely more fun in a pub afterwards, even I again couldn't drink any beer because of my eating experiment.

Prof. Dr. Christoph M. SchmidtProf. Dr. Christoph M. Schmidt, Source: scope-economics.nl

There were several guest lectures since the beginning of the semester, but for some reasons I haven't visited any of them so far, mostly because of my salsa lectures. Also my fellow Infonomics guys wanted to come, so we agreed to go into a pub after the lecture. For those, who know my economic believes, might be a bit surprise that I even wanted to spent my time at this lecture, but I was also expecting something more let's say descriptive and theoretical and then it's a good topic for discussion.

Prof. Dr. Christoph M. Schmidt introduced himself as the president of the RWI in Essen and a member of the German Council of Economic Experts, which is a group of economists that gives advise to the German government. At that point started to be a bit worried and hoped, that we will focus more on economics than on politics. Sometimes he managed to. Well, I mostly liked his comments about results from some research.

Lecture about Well-being and Quality of Life

LectureLecture, source: my picture

The lecture was organized by student organization at SBE called Scope. From his position as a part of the group of economists that gives advise to the government, he started to describe, what actually economic reporting is about and what are some specific properties – difference between long-term and short-term. His description what actually some studies of quality of life try to find out and how can we describe well-being, was long, boring and I felt asleep. I think this guy would be ideal for telling fairy-tales because of his voice and way of speaking. But for almost 2 hours lecture it was just too much to be able to keep attention.

As he was presenting some of the graphs and reports I remembered at one article about statistic reports. To briefly describe it (article is in Czech language) – can you really believe the statistics provided by the government? It's game with numbers, you can change rules, assumptions, … He uses the terms as "disposable income" and that it increased over time – and he can say that while describing the graph with the GDP. Quite funny, he introduced the graph with "potential product" and real output of economy that lowered in 2009 by 5% described as "huge decrease". He also said, that there is exponential growth, but the graph was clearly concave function, so even if he had used the logarithmic scale, he would have get the linear function.

Than the lecture was more about the second topic – sustainability – and if there can be well-being without economical growth, do we need it? Did you know that there somebody creates sustainability reporting? In Germany there is a special commission that studies growth and deals with "well-being and quality of life". This commission has 45 people, 17 are members of parliament and the rest are "experts" comming from ecologic studies, European studies,… and economics… WTF? My German friend was quite angry, as he has to pay this project from his taxes. No wonder, as they actually do now know, who to measure people's happiness Smiley :D There is also some Enquete-Kommission that investigates 5 topics:

  • 1. Importance of growth for econmic activity an development
  • 2. Developing a holistic measure of wealth
  • 3. Growth, consumption of resources, technological progress – possibilities and limits of decoupling
  • 4. Regulatory policy
  • 5. Something about work

Back to happiness. The problem is, that if you ask people to say how they fell happy on the scale of 0-10, than you will get also different cultural results, even from rich country less positive results than from poor one. Another problem, how to compare countries? We also have problem with distribution – it's relative an you cannot get the people on the borders to the research – they are under the bridge, or too rich, that they do not wanna talk about it. According to some study also people's hapiness after marriage goes down. He also mentioned measuringthe quality of life using non-material indicators. Well, sometimes it's really funny to see what else people try to quantify. On the other hand, we have to realize, that we pay all this kind of crap from our taxes.

Let's have a beer

After all this, it's good to switch to another topic, sit in a pub with friend and have a beer (damn, I can't drink alcohol till Friday). We never mind, I really enjoyed talking about different topics, also a bit about the lecture, but we actually ended up at discussion about hard-skills, soft-skills their connection, university target to teach those and the real life. The good thing for that is, that Julian has been working for about 5 years and Erwin had intern-ship for several months and also everybody of us has different background.

Article last edited 1. 12. 2011, viewed: 673-times.
Total 780 words.
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