Making Stuff Up

So, it turns out that I wasn't crazy when I couldn't find Vanuatu in the World Database of Happiness, because it's not there! Carl Bialik at the WSJ has the story. Apparently NEF just made up Vanuatu's life satisfaction number by extrapolation from other countries. But, truly, this competely defeats the purpose of self-reported life satisfaction. There are undoubtedly unique aspects of Vanuatu's culture, economy, climate, character, etc., that would enter into their pattern of self-reports. So it's pretty funny that Vanuatu “wins” in a much-touted index in part due to numbers the authors made up.

4 thoughts on “Making Stuff Up”

  1. Thanks Will, I was hoping you might notice the post. I’ve been very fortunate as Tyler’s favorable reviews this week have really put my blog on the map. (Today I joined the illustrious group of macroeconomists that Krugman considers clueless.)
    I really enjoy your stints, and recall you once mentioned a research project that sounded a lot like what I am working on. In my blog I called you and Tyler pragmatic libertarians (which is also how I describe my own views.) I hope that label is fair. I also loved your piece on happiness research, it’s funny how some “scientists” are so close to the subject that they can’t see all the heroic assumptions that are being made.

  2. Denmark is an extreme outlier.
    1. It is 5 million people (not 10 million, not 50 million, not 100 million).
    2. It is 90%+ native Danes.
    3. It is 95% Lutheran.

  3. I need to go “read the whole thing” but I take it he is saying that the key is to ditch neoliberalism for classical liberalism. Seems like the founders of this country figured that out a couple of hundred years ago. The more things change the more they stay the same.

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