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2014年08月22日 【我要咨询】 】 来源:清大在线

  It’s wise not to exclude wealth from happiness equation

  Can we buy happiness? This perennial question is back at the top of the agenda.我们能买到幸福吗?这一永恒的问题正再度回到首要议程上来。

  Pharrell Williams, whose gloriously catchy song “Happy” is the biggest international hit in years, declares that you are happy “if you feel like a room without a roof”. Carlos Slim, the Mexican telecoms magnate who was the world’s richest man for many years, suggests that it is time, rather than money, that we should value. He has proposed a three-day working week. People could work three 11-hour days and then enjoy their family.法瑞尔?威廉姆斯(Pharrell Williams)唱过一首极其动人的歌曲《幸福》(Happy),多年来一直位列全球最热门歌曲。他在歌里唱到,“如果你感觉自己是一个没有屋顶的房间”,那么你就是幸福的。曾多年位居全球富豪榜首位的墨西哥电信业大亨卡洛斯?斯利姆(Carlos Slim)认为,我们应该重视的是时间,而非金钱。他提出每周工作3天。人们可以每周工作3天,每天工作11小时,接下来就享受与家人一起的时光。

  The idea stirred up much reaction, but it made sense. Latin countries have a working day with a siesta for lunches, or mixing with family. Even though they are poorer in economic terms, many visiting Americans and northern Europeans have the sense that they are happier.这个建议激起了很大反响,但它是合理的。拉美国家在工作日有午睡时间,或者去吃午餐或者与家人团聚。尽管从经济上来说,他们较为贫穷,但很多来到拉美的美国人和北欧人感觉他们更幸福。

  Economists want to measure this. Happiness is of course subjective, and hard to measure. But pollsters have asked questions about it for decades now, while economists interpret the data.经济学家希望衡量幸福。当然,幸福是主观的,很难衡量。但几十年来,调查者一直询问关于幸福的问题,而经济学家们一直在解读这些数据。

  Research in the 1970s suggested that within one country, richer people were happier than poor ones. This tended to confirm the belief that as humans we are programmed to compete. But it also found that countries grew no happier as they grew wealthier, while rich countries were no happier than poor countries.上世纪70年代的研究显示,在一国内部,富人比穷人更幸福。这往往证实了一种看法:作为人类,我们生来就是要竞争。但当时的研究还发现,国家不会随着变富而变得更幸福,而富国也并不比穷国更幸福。

  As many assume that life is about “the pursuit of happiness,” and the implicit goal of economic policy is to maximise GDP, this created a problem. Taken to its logical extreme, it implied that there was no need to prioritise economic growth.很多人认为,生活的目的就是“追求幸福”,而经济政策的隐含目标是最大限度地提高国内生产总值(GDP),因此这就产生了一个问题。如果从极端逻辑来看,这意味着没有必要将经济增长排在首位。

  In recent years, Justin Wolfers, an economist now working at the Brookings Institution, armed with new polling data, has tried to show that there is no paradox. He summarised his findings in a speech to the CFA Institute in Chicago last week.最近几年,现供职于布鲁金斯学会(Brookings Institution)的经济学家贾斯汀?沃尔弗斯(Justin Wolfers)手中有了新的调查数据,他试图证明,这里面不存在悖论。他最近在芝加哥特许金融分析师协会(CFA Institute)的一次演讲中总结了他的发现。

  His data include international polls carried out by the World Values Survey, which has been in operation since 1981, the Gallup World Poll, which started work in 2005, and the Pew Global Attitudes Survey, which has conducted surveys since 2002. These surveys reveal that the link between wealth and happiness is not only strong, but stronger than most would think. Within countries, people get happier as they rise up the income scale, with surveys showing that 100 per cent of those on more than $500,000 a year are happy.他的数据包括“世界价值观调查”(World Values Survey,始于1981年)、“盖洛普世界调查”(Gallup World Poll,始于2005年)以及“皮尤全球态度调查”(Pew Global Attitudes Survey,始于2002年)等全球调查。这些调查显示,财富与幸福不仅关系紧密,而且紧密程度超出多数人的想象。在国家内部,人们会随着收入水平的提高而感觉更幸福,调查显示,年收入超过50万美元的人100%都感觉幸福。

  Their sample size is too small: plainly some very rich people are unhappy, but they eluded these surveys. The finding seems so robust that at any given level of income, the best single way to make you happier is to give you more money.他们的样本规模太小:一些非常富有的人显然并不幸福,但他们没有被纳入调查。在任何既定收入水平上,让人们变得更为幸福的最佳方法就是给他们更多的钱,这个发现看上去如此有力。

  There are also signs, from what is still very limited data, that growing wealth tends to make nations happier – and the reverse. Americans grew far less happy once their economy slipped into a severe recession in 2008. And people in rich countries are happier than in poor.还有一些来自仍然非常有限的数据的迹象表明,一国财富的日益增加往往会让这个国家更幸福,反之亦然。2008年,当美国经济陷入严重衰退时,美国人似乎变得远没有原来幸福。而且富国的人们要比穷国的人们更幸福。

  If there is anything surprising here, it is that wealth is more important to happiness than many would expect, not less. The simpler and less complicated lives in poorer countries do not compensate for the money that can be made for people living more complicated and stressful lives in more successful economies. And Mr Wolfers even points to surveys suggesting that we do not, collectively, feel a need to compete against the Joneses. People do not measure themselves against others.如果说研究中有什么意外发现的话,那就是,财富对于幸福的重要性超出、而不是低于很多人的预期。在较为贫穷的国家,生活更为简单而不那么复杂,但这敌不过生活在更为成功的经济体、过着更为复杂且压力更大的生活的人所赚取的收入。沃尔弗斯甚至指出,一些调查显示,我们总体而言认为没有必要与别人攀比。人们不会拿自己与其他人做比较来衡量自己的幸福。

  Surveys have even tried to break down the components of happiness. And indeed, Mr Wolfers shows that people in wealthier countries are more likely to complain of stress, and of feeling worried.调查甚至试图分解幸福的构成。实际上,沃尔弗斯指出,较为富有国家的人们更有可能抱怨压力以及忧虑感。

  But these correlations are not strong. Meanwhile, on a battery of measures, people in rich countries have a better chance of happiness: they are less likely to have experienced physical pain recently (presumably because they are less likely to do manual work); less likely (surprisingly) to have suffered depression; more likely to have had good tasting food to eat; more likely to smile and laugh a lot; and more likely to be treated with respect. They are less likely to be angry or bored, and somewhat more likely to feel well rested.然而,这些关联性并不强。与此同时,从很多标准来看,富国的人们更有机会感到幸福:近年遭受身体痛苦的可能性较低(这大概是因为他们从事体力工作的可能性较小);感到抑郁的可能性较小(这令人感到意外);更有可能吃到美味的食品;更有可能多多地笑;更有可能被尊重。他们感到愤怒或枯燥的可能性较小,更有可能感觉精力充沛。

  What are the implications of this? First, economic growth should be an imperative after all. Perhaps we really should be working flat-out in the western style after all, despite Mr Slim’s suggestions.这些研究有什么启示?首先,不管怎样经济增长应是一项必要任务。尽管斯利姆建议每周工作3天,但我们或许确实应按照西方的风格卖力工作。

  And some paradoxical implications of earlier research now vanish. Letting some people be richer than others is not a problem – the key is to raise income for all, and not to worry if some do far better.早先研究给出的一些自相矛盾的启示现在都消失了。让一些人比其他人更富有不是问题,关键是要提高所有人的收入,不要担心一些人是否远比其他人富有。

  For employers, Carlos Slim’s suggestion of flexible working may be worth a try, but the inconvenient truth is that the best way to a happy workforce is to pay them.对于员工而言,卡洛斯?斯利姆提出的弹性工作建议可能值得一试,但一个令人尴尬的事实是,让员工变得幸福的最佳方式是付给他们工资。

  If this evidence and its implications do not convince, we could always follow Pharrell Williams. Economists could ask everyone to “clap along if you know what happiness can do for you”.如果本文所述的证据及其启示不能说服人的话,我们总是可以按照法瑞尔?威廉姆斯歌里唱的那么做。经济学家可以邀请所有人“一起拍手,如果你知道幸福能为你做什么”。

  John Authers is the FT’s Senior Investment Columnist本文作者是英国《金融时报》高级投资专栏作家

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