Erin’s essay
As our society gets wealthier, are we doomed to become ever more unhappy? Discuss in the light of the Richard Layard article.
1. People go to great lengths to gain happiness, and many assume that money is an automatic route to achieving it. However, evidence presented by Richard Layard suggests that this is not the case. Over the past 50 years society has changed dramatically. People have many more material possessions and higher quality services, yet there are no signs of increasing happiness. Instead there seems to be rising dissatisfaction and depression.
2. As we might expect, wealthier people are generally happier than poorer. According to Layard 41% of the richest quarter of the population say they are very happy, but just 26% of the poorest quarter. Yet, surprisingly, overall levels of happiness have not risen as wealth has risen. Meanwhile, serious unhappiness seems to be increasing. For example, studies found that for women in their thirties clinical depression almost doubled over two decades (Layard, 2003, p. 25).
3. Layard argues that one reason rising wealth has not brought happiness is that we live in a highly competitive society and we are all aware of people within our ‘reference groups’ better off than us. It is as if we are ‘polluted’ by their wealth. Just as someone enjoying loud music creates noise pollution for people in their neighbourhood, so someone enjoying a rising income pollutes the happiness of other people in their family or workplace. We even pollute our own happiness, because we get ‘habituated’ to high standards of living.
4. ‘On the principle that the polluter should pay’, says Layard, we should tax the extra income which causes the pollution. If this money is then spent in the community, it will make society feel less competitive. ‘The electorate now understands that the scramble to spend more is partially self defeating […] [and is] more favourable to public expenditure.’ (Layard, 2003, p. 26).
5. From this point of view, it seems that, unless we reduce the competitiveness of our society, for example by using taxes to repair the ‘pollution’ caused by wealth, then we really are doomed to increasing unhappiness in a world of increasing plenty.
References
Layard, R. (2003) The Secrets of Happiness, New Statesman, 3 March 2003.
(338 words)
(Note: the paragraphs have been numbered to make discussion of the essay easier. Essay paragraphs are not usually numbered.)


Kate’s essay
As our society gets wealthier, are we doomed to become ever more unhappy? Discuss in the light of the Richard Layard article.
1. In the light of Richard Layard’s article, I do not agree that we are ‘doomed to become ever more unhappy’.
2. Firstly, in my view, Richard Layard’s article is not representative of the population as a whole. Richard Layard says ‘society has got richer but people have not become happier’, but what does he know, living his privileged London life?
3. In any case it’s well known that money cannot buy happiness and having a high income just puts more pressure on any individual. People have expectations and sometimes reaching them such as owning a very expensive car does not bring happiness.
4. It is the quality of any person’s life that leads to contentment, and also how you live your life? Money is able to buy materialistic possessions but it does nothing to improve genuine feelings such as a sense of well-being, a sense of giving, raising self-esteem, a sense of worth, and so on and so forth.
5. The old saying ‘money is the root of all evil’ speaks for itself.
6. Perhaps if Richard Layard looked around him a bit more and conducted more surveys amongst people who do voluntary work for example he would reach a different conclusion.
7. So in conclusion, I do not believe that we are doomed to become ever more unhappy.

(Note: the paragraphs have been numbered to make discussion of the essay easier. Essay paragraphs are not usually numbered.)


Lewis’s essay
As our society gets wealthier, are we doomed to become ever more unhappy? Discuss in the light of the Richard Layard article.
1. I will discuss in the light of Richard Layards article whether as the nation gets richer we are doomed to become ever more unhappy?
2. You would think women would be hapier because there pay and job opportunities has improved. Women can do the same job as men with the same demands and responsibilities and they still