Monday, May 10, 2010

The Economy of Regard

I am working through David Halpern's The Hidden Wealth of Nations. Halpern was a chief policy analyst for Tony Blair. He is starting from a problem I have written about several times recently - the disjunction between high levels of happiness and high levels of income in nations. His argument is that what really makes a nation happy, once its basic needs are met, are the giant web of relationships that we have with family, friends, and fellow citizens. These relations usually take the form of long circles of gift-giving, which more or less even out in the end. We do these things for others not for money, but for regard - our regard for them, and theirs for us.

The economy of regard, Halpern argues, is much larger than the economy of monetary exchange. Indeed, quite a bit of what we work for and buy is to give to others out of regard. Happy nations have a healthy economy of regard. Since we work much harder and better at measuring the economy of monetary exchange than we do at measuring the economy of regard, the major wealth of nations is hidden.

1 comment:

Francisco Ortega said...

Axiological human values and good behavior: perhaps, a new theory of economical value.

A complementary currency electronic and local about this.