La poursuite officielle du bonheur

CAMBRIDGE – A une époque de fort resserrement budgétaire et de crise financière, les dirigeants politiques envisagent aujourd’hui la croissance économique comme la pièce maitresse de leur programme de politique intérieure. Le produit intérieur brut est considéré comme le principal indicateur du bien-être national. Mais, à l’heure où nous nous projetons sur 2011 et au-delà, ne devrions-nous pas nous poser la question suivante : est-il vraiment sage d’accorder une telle importance à la croissance ?

Soit, de nombreuses études ont confirmé que les pays les plus riches ont tendance à être plus heureux que les pays pauvres, et que les personnes riches se sentent généralement plus comblées que leurs concitoyens moins bien nantis. Pourtant, d’autres conclusions en provenance de plusieurs pays relativement aisés, comme la Corée du Sud et les Etats-Unis, suggèrent que leurs habitants ne sont pas plus heureux aujourd’hui qu’ils ne l’étaient il y a 50 ans, malgré un doublement ou un quadruplement, en moyenne, des revenus par habitant.

De plus, une récente enquête canadienne a montré que les gens les plus heureux vivent dans les provinces les plus pauvres, comme Terre Neuve et la Nouvelle Ecosse, tandis que les citoyens des provinces les plus riches, notamment en Ontario et en Colombie Britannique, comptaient parmi les moins heureux. Puisque le bonheur est finalement ce que désirent le plus les gens, et que la richesse n’est simplement qu’un moyen pour y parvenir, la primauté accordée actuellement à la croissance économique semblerait être une erreur.

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