Econation is an independent source of information about well-being and sustainability.
Our focus is driven by two general empirical truths:
- People are using more resources than the planet can sustainably provide
- Consumption that goes beyond satisfying basic needs does not provide more well-being
The fact that subjective well-being has not increased since the 1950s whilst production (GDP) has more than doubled shows that the modern economic machine has decoupled from the general well-being of the people. It means that half of our production and consequent consumption is a waste. The question is why do we keep producing and consuming more if there is no real benefit? And what is the purpose of an economy if it’s not the general well-being of the people?
The modern economic drive for a continually growing system of production and consumption creates problems for both people and planet. The issues are complex but one thing is abundantly clear: the earth is ailing because of human consumption patterns and at the same time levels of human suffering and dysfunction are increasing including poverty, crime, social inequality, depression, anxiety, lifestyle diseases, addictions and substance abuse. Our childrens’ generation may well be the first in history to have a life expectancy lower than their parents.
A meta-analysis of research on well-being which was conducted by the New Economics Foundation showed that the five most effective ways to well-being have nothing to do with consumption or material wealth. After all, it’s called well-being and not well-having.
Well-being is a complex notion to define. It is highly subjective but the fact is it does not correlate to how much stuff you have. Some people who have relatively little can be perfectly happy whilst others are never satisfied no matter how much they have. This being the case having stuff is much less important than most people think.