Happy hair-dressers

27May05

Have a look at this Happiness Index published by a British organisation called City & Guilds (Link through the FastCompany weblog). Hairdressers are the happiest workers in Britain: 40 percent say they are very content in their job (giving their careers a score of ten out of ten). Next in the happiness stakes are the clergy (24 percent ), chefs/cooks (23 percent ), beauticians (22 percent ), and plumbers, mechanics and builders (all 20 percent ). In contrast, only five percent of lawyers, IT specialists and secretaries/PAs, four percent of real-estate agents, three percent of civil servants and two percent of architects say they are extremely happy at work.

Why are hair-dressers happiest? Is it because no client ever dares argue with them – when they are at work? Happiness measures are fascinating – especially when they give no explanation for the figures – and leave it entirely to the imagination of the readers. Why are so few architects happy, for instance?

As an aside, for my master’s degree dissertation at the LSE, I had started work on developing ‘quality of life’ indices for rural India – and gave up very early on as the scope of the work dawned upon me – deciding it to save it for my PhD… I would have needed a few years just to complete my literature review with any amount of honesty – there is so much work that has been done on quality of life and happiness all around the world… but almost all of them are based on Western notions of happiness – given that basic needs have been taken care of… but in a context like rural India, where does one even begin? Read also : Who is happiest? and Is your job lovely or lousy?

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