Ruut Veenhoven

In: Phillip Brey., Adam Briggle and Edward Spence (Eds.) ‘The Good Life in a Technological Age’, Routledge, New York,  Series Studies in Science Technology and Society, Chapter 3, pp 55-76, ISBN 978-0-415-89126-4 (hbk), 987-0-203-12458-1 (ekb)

Effects of technology on the quality of human life can be assessed by comparing quality of life in more and in less modern societies. The quality of life in a society can be measured by how long and happy its inhabitants live. Using these indicators I start with a cross-sectional analysis of 140 nations around 2005 and find that people live longer and happier in today's most modern societies. Secondly I examine trends in 10 modern nations over the last 35 years and find that happiness and longevity have increased in most cases. Thirdly I consider the long-term and review findings from historical anthropology, which show that we lived better in the early hunter-gatherer society than in the later agrarian society and that quality of life increased markedly in industrial society. Together these data suggest that technological development has worked out differently for the quality of human life, first negatively, in the change from a hunter-gatherer existence to agriculture, and next positively, in the more recent transformation from an agrarian to an industrial society. We live now longer and happier than ever before.

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