Hendonics is the economics of happiness. Bogota is in Colombia, the Mayor used to be Enrique Peñalosa, and Charles Montgomery has written a story in the Globe and Mail about him and it.
So what makes societies happy? The past decade has seen an explosion in research aiming to answer that question, and there’s good news for people in places like Bogota: Feelings of well-being are determined as much by status and social connectedness as by income. Richer people are happier than poor people, but societies with wider income gaps are less happy on the whole. People who interact more with friends, family and neighbours are happier than those who don’t.
And what makes people most unhappy? Not work, but commuting to work.
People who read this blog are probably familiar with Penalosa’s reputation and work.
“I realized that we in the Third World are not going to catch up to the developed countries for two or three hundred years,” he recalls. “If we defined our success just in terms of income per capita, we would have to accept ourselves as second- or third-rate societies – as a bunch of losers – which is not exactly enticing for our young people. So we are forced to find another measure of success. I think the only real obvious measure of success is happiness.”
Montgomery explains in fascinating detail how Bogota was saved from freeways, what they did instead, and how it all relates to Vancouver and Canadian cities.