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Move over, Disneyland

POLITICO

It turns out Alpine County is the happiest place on earth. Well, at least the happiest place in California.

That’s according to data presented in former Speaker Anthony Rendon’s Select Committee on Happiness and Public Policy Outcomes on Wednesday. The data, explained by Oxford Professor Jan-Emmanuel De Neve and derived from the World Happiness Report, found the sparsely-populated county along the state’s Nevada border boasted the highest levels of happiness of any county in the state.

How Much Happiness Can Your Salary Buy? Researchers Can’t Agree

The Wall Street Journal

Other researchers say that beyond a certain level of pay, happiness effectively plateaus.

Even if there continued to be a subtle boost in happiness, “it’d be so tiny it’d be meaningless,” said Jan-Emmanuel De Neve, an economics professor at Saïd Business School at the University of Oxford who studies well-being. 

Still, the idea of a salary for maximum happiness is appealing.

Individual-level wellbeing strategies aren’t working

HR Magazine

The headline finding is that individual-level mental health interventions don’t work. Across several indicators of work wellbeing and mental health, participants appeared no better off than their colleagues who didn’t participate. There wasn’t improvement in evaluations of the job either.

Discord over use of happiness metrics to steer policy

Financial Times

“The internal and external validity of subjective or self-reported wellbeing measures has been studied for over three decades and found to be pretty convincing,” says Jan-Emmanuel De Neve, professor of economics and behavioural science at Oxford university’s Saïd Business School, and an editor of the report.

Link between wellbeing and productivity is made ‘clear’

Financial Times

The good news, says William Fleming, research fellow at Oxford university’s Wellbeing Research Centre, is that there is a “clear link between subjective wellbeing and productivity”.

He points to two recent studies that show happier workers make more sales, and wellbeing at work can boost financial performance. They support the business case for tending to staff happiness, he argues. “This is without considering absence rates because of mental health and costs of employee turnover.”

Companies reap bigger dividends from happier staff

Financial Times

For academics Jan-Emmanuel De Neve and George Ward at the University of Oxford, and Micah Kaats at Harvard University, it is no surprise, then, that the company’s share price has performed so strongly: their recent study provides the clearest link yet between staff wellbeing and financial performance in quoted US companies. “We find that higher levels of wellbeing generally predict higher firm valuations, higher return on assets, higher gross profits, and better stock market performance,” they write in a 42-page paper.

Employers re-examine wellbeing strategies

Financial Times

Positive effects observed in pilot schemes often evaporate when a programme is released into “real-world settings”, cautions William Fleming, research fellow at the University of Oxford Wellbeing Research Centre. In a study of survey responses from 46,000 UK workers, he found no difference in the self-reported mental health of those who participated in wellbeing programmes and those who did not.

Teacher Well-Being Depends on Workload, School Climate and Feeling Supported

EdSurge

Researchers from the University of Oxford Wellbeing Research Centre developed a framework that divides teacher well-being into three main factors: job satisfaction, individual elements like physical health, and school-level drivers like work-life balance and class size.

A generation adrift: Why young people are less happy and what we can do about it

World Economic Forum

In the “seven ages of man” depicted in As You Like It, Shakespeare painted later life stages as melancholic, but the latest World Happiness Report unveils a concerning reality: young people worldwide now report lower happiness levels than their elders. Since 2006, levels of reported youth happiness have declined in North America, South America, Europe, South Asia, the Middle East and North Africa.

The chart that shows how happy you are, just as long as you’re old enough

The Age

Now for the bad news: despite all our advantages, Australia’s average life satisfaction score has declined over the past decade, and the trend started before the pandemic. On the report’s measure, happiness in Australia last peaked in 2013.

The downward trend has been driven by gloomier young people. Between 2010 and 2023 the decline in average life satisfaction scores among Australians aged under-30 was nearly double that of older age groups. While over-60s in Australia were ranked 9th in the world for happiness this year, that fell to 19th for under-30s. Happiness among younger age cohorts also fell markedly in the US, Britain, Canada and New Zealand.