• 13 April 2011

    GCPH Seminar Series 7 Lecture 5 - Dr. Timo Hämäläinen

    Location: Trades Hall of Glasgow, 85 Glassford St, Glasgow, G1 1UH
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    Silent transformation of well-being

    Public policy debates in industrialized societies tend to evolve around two instrumental subsystems: the economy and the welfare state. The ultimate goal of these subsystems - the well-being of citizens - receives very little attention. It seems as if policy makers assume that they understand it so well that it needs no special reflection. Unfortunately, this is not the case.

    The determinants of well-being have changed considerably in recent decades as societies have become wealthier, cultural norms and regulations have become more liberal, and the influence of the markets in everyday life has grown. Instead of scarcity and deprivation, the majority of people in affluent societies suffer from the "problem of choice" – an inability to make good choices for their own and others' well-being.

    Increasing concerns surrounding work-life balance, mental health, obesity, personal finances and children's development, as well as the rapidly growing markets for life management and well-being magazines, TV-programs and personal consulting services, suggest that this problem is real and has major societal impacts.

    This underlines the need to develop a better and more holistic understanding of everyday well-being that could serve as a basis for better individual decisions and public policy making. Improving knowledge about well-being is also crucial for innovating products and services to improve it. The more you know about the determinants of well-being in everyday life, the better products and services you can develop. Hence, well-being and competitiveness are not contradictory, rather they are consistent with each other.

    Presentation slides - PDF 
    Seminar summary - PDF


    Sitra, the Finnish Innovation Fund, is an independent public fund which promotes the welfare of Finnish society under the supervision of the Finnish Parliament. Timo Hämäläinen,  Ph.D. Dos. (Intl Business) is a Sitra Fellow, with special responsibility for Strategic Research into the future opportunities and challenges facing Finnish society.