The study – conducted by researchers from the Institute of Environmental Sciences and Technology at the Autonomous University of Barcelona (ICTA-UAB) in Spain, in collaboration with McGill University in Canada – included 2,966 people from indigenous and local communities in 19 places across the world. A world where “only 64% of households surveyed have any cash income.”
In a statement released today, UAB notes that the results show that “surprisingly, many populations with very low cash income report very high levels of life satisfaction, with scores similar to those in rich countries,” says Eric Galbraith, study author. Main. The author, a researcher at ICTA-UAB and McGill University, is mentioned in the release.
In recent decades, global surveys have shown that people in wealthier countries tend to report higher levels of life satisfaction than those living in poorer countries.
According to Eric Galbraith, “This association may suggest that only rich societies can be happy,” which explains why economic growth is often “touted” as a sure way to increase the well-being of people in low-income countries. But most global surveys, such as the World Happiness Report, despite having thousands of responses from citizens of industrialized societies, tend to ignore people in small and marginalized communities, “where the exchange of money plays little role in daily life.” Life and survival depend directly on nature. “.
The researchers, whose work was published in the North American scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), gave the communities studied an average life satisfaction score of 6.8 on a scale of 0 to 10. Some averages did not exceed 5.1. But four of the small communities recorded “an average score above 8, which is typical of wealthy Scandinavian countries.”
Noting that many of the above-mentioned societies have “a history of marginalization and oppression,” the statement adds that the study’s findings “are consistent with the idea that human societies can provide highly satisfying lives for their members without necessarily requiring high levels of care.” Material wealth, measured in monetary terms.”
“The strong, often observed relationship between income and life satisfaction is not universal, and proves that wealth – as generated by industrial economies – is not fundamentally necessary for humans to live happy lives,” says Victoria Reyes García, a researcher at ICREA (Catalan Institute for Development). Advanced Research and Studies) ICTA-UAB and co-author of the study.
The study's conclusions represent “good news for sustainability and human happiness,” as they prove that “economic growth based on the intensive use of resources is not necessary to achieve high levels of subjective well-being.”
On the other hand, the researchers stress that they do not know why “people in many indigenous and local communities report high levels of life satisfaction.”
Previous work has suggested that important factors include family and social support, relationships, spirituality, and unity with nature, “but it is possible that important factors vary widely across societies, or conversely, a small subset of factors are recognized as being dominant everywhere.” Galbraith.
The researcher says he hopes that “by learning more about what makes life fulfilling in these diverse societies, we can help many others live happier lives while facing the sustainability crisis.”