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photo: Unanue Professor Wenceslao Unanue
Assistant Professor, Business School, Universidad Adolfo Ibez, Chile

Understanding the effect of policy on national wellbeing

March 2017
Despite dozens of years of research, we still know precious little about what policies increase national wellbeing.Response
A growing body of research has already shown what kind of policies may increase national wellbeing. Some examples are: promoting intrinsic instead ox extrinsic values (in schools, at work); using new metrics (e.g. subjective well-being indicators) for resources allocation; promoting trust and altruism; mindfulness programs; etc.Agree strongly

In order to find out what raises national wellbeing, we need to have thousands of randomised controlled trials in all major areas of national policy.Response
Highly validated statistical processes are always useful. Especially when culture is taking into account. However, I am not sure if at this stage “we need to have thousands of randomized controlled trials in all major areas of national policy”. More than 30 years of research has studied “well-being for public policies” (e.g. education, labor, mental health, the environment) and founded consistently what make people happier. Thus, we could start with these policies. Of course we need more research, but nowadays we have very important findings. In addition, human nature is very similar (in average). For example, Self-determination theory Deci & Ryan, 2000) has shown that our psychological needs are universal. Why would we need “thousands of randomized controlled trials” for exploring what it is important for people?Disagree

Wellbeing Effects of Anonymous Donation of Eggs and Sperm

February 2017
Donating gametes (eggs, sperm) via clinics as anonymous donors is one of the highest return-to-effort things individuals can do to increase overall wellbeing.Response
Indeed, donating gametes via clinics as anonymous donors may increase well-being. However, it is not clear if donating gametes is the highest return-to-effort things individuals can do to increase overall wellbeing. Research has shown that other kind of pro-social behavior/altruism (e.g. donating money, protecting the environment, volunteering, etc.) may also increase well-being. It would be very interesting to explore which one of those actions have the highest impact on happiness, but as far as I know, there is not a final answer yet.Neither agree nor disagree

The right of a child to know who their donor was when they turn 18 outweighs (in an overall wellbeing sense) the possibility that this right-to-know leads to a shortage of donors and reduces the number of donor-conceived children.Response
I am not sure about the correct answer, so sorry but it is not my field of expertise. I think you need to add an additional answer option (NA).Neither agree nor disagree

Organisational structures on workers' wellbeing

January 2017
Employees in more hierarchical organisations have higher levels of wellbeing than those of flatter organisations.Response
Self-determination theory has consistently shown that autonomy is a key psychological nutrient for a happier life and for better organizational performance. I think that, in average, hierarchical organizations does not help to satisfy this need. Moreover, they may frustrate it.Disagree strongly

Tilting the tax and subsidy mix in favour of more hierarchical organisations (in a revenue neutral manner) would probably improve the wellbeing of employees.Response
I can`t see any reason why to do that. However, I think that if governments decide to do it, the final effect on workers wellbeing for those working in more hierarchical companies is not clear. It will depend on several factors that need to be considered (e.g., how to distribute the extra money, the association between money and happiness, etc.). Importantly, the global effect in the economy should also be considered (e.g. economic grow/GNP/salaries will be affected)Neither agree nor disagree

Wellbeing and Public Holidays

December 2016
Do you think that populations on average have higher wellbeing during major festive periods like Christmas?Response
The answer depends on several factors. For example, Kasser & Sheldon (2002) found that when intrinsic activities (e.g. family relationships) were more prominent, more happiness was reported during Christmas time. However, when more extrinsic and materialistic activities were more salient (e.g. consumption and money spending), less happiness was reported. Therefore, if we want to have a happier Christmas, we should try to spend our time with our close ones instead of visiting shopping centers.Neither agree nor disagree

Do you think on balance that average wellbeing would rise if there were more mandatory public holidays in your country?Response
I think that if all other factors are controlled for, Id agree with the question. However, several cautions have to be considered: 1. There are two traditions in the well-being (WB) literature: the hedonic and the eudaimonic approaches. Subjective (SWB; positive affect, negative affect, life satisfaction) is the hedonic aspect of WB and basically refers to having pleasure and avoiding pain. Eudaimonic well-being, however, consists of different Aristotelian dimensions such as meaning, relationships, autonomy, and self-realization. Therefore, Id try to split the effect on both kinds of WB to have a better conclusion. Probably, the hedonic well-being will definitely increase when we stop working (more pleasure and fun). However, the effect on eudaimonic well-being is not 100% clear. Work provides opportunities for meeting people and developed our competences. It is not always bad and a lot of people find happiness when they are at their jobs. For example, there are a lot of lonely people (In Chile we found that almost 30% of the population mention ton feel alone). Therefore, what are we doing with our free time? If we dont have family and good friends to visit, it could be very sad. In addition, as in the Christmas question, the final effect would depend on whether we spend the free time in intrinsic or extrinsic activities. 2. Finally, when people have more free time (more holidays), they need more money (travelling, shopping/etc.). It is an important factor to consider. If people dont have enough money, or need to ask loans, their well-being would probably decrease. Agree