Warwick Week – Measuring Happiness, Sibling Rivalry, Undeserving Poor and Masons' Marks
Why it's hard to measure happiness
This week the government announced plans to measure the nation’s happiness, or general well-being (GWB) according to David Cameron. Prof Andrew Oswald of Warwick Business School is an expert in emotional prosperity and happiness. He said:
Economic performance is... a means to an end. That end is not the consumption of beefburgers, nor the accumulation of television sets, nor the vanquishing of some high level of interest rates, but rather the enrichment of mankind's feeling of well-being. Economic things matter only in so far as they make people happier.
An only child is a happy child
New research from Prof Dieter Wolke, Warwick Medical School, shows that the more siblings children have, the unhappier they become, due to bullying and competition. The research was featured in The Observer this week:
One of the widest-ranging research projects on family life conducted in Britain has revealed that the fewer siblings children have, the happier they are – and that only children are the most contented.
The findings, shared exclusively with the Observer, suggest that "sibling bullying" could be part of the problem, with 31% of children saying they are hit, kicked or pushed by a brother or sister "quite a lot" or "a lot". Others complain of belongings being stolen by siblings and being called hurtful names.
The figures are the first to emerge from Understanding Society, a study tracking the lives of 100,000 people in 40,000 British households. They will be revealed on Friday in Britain in 2011, the State of the Nation, a magazine published by the Economic and Social Research Council.
The deserving and the undeserving poor
Prof Mark Harrison was discussing the morals of the welfare state on BBC Radio 4’s Analysis programme on Monday this week (15th November).
The 30 minute programme, led by presenter Chris Bowlby considered whether a state welfare system can ever distinguish between those who deserve help and those who do not. Other contributors to the programme included Will Hutton, The Work Foundation; Jose Harris, Emeritus Professor of Modern History, Oxford University; Hazel Forsyth, Museum of London; and Gordon Lewis, Community Project Manager, Salvation Army.
Find out more about the programme and listen again >>
Masons' marks get a revival
A medieval system of marking stone in building work could be a cheap and effective way of ending the modern day frustration of constructing ‘flat-pack’ furniture, according to Dr Jenny Alexander, History of Art Department.
Her research was featured in The Guardian this week as a cheap and efficient solution to complex self-assembly furniture. She said:
If companies that make flat-pack furniture used a system similar to masons' assembly marks to show which pieces went together, it could remove the need for the complex and often impenetrable instruction booklets they currently issue.