We can understand certain characteristics of populations by comparing them to a simulated, random population. Just as the spectra of stars tells us something about the progress of their lives, the amount of power people have over their lives (including their perception of where they are relative to where they want to be) can indicate how satisfied they will be, how long they are likely to live, how violent they are likely to be, how many resources they will use, and how their population will grow. We can use a simple mathematical model and some basic statistics for a sample of countries to study these relationships
In a simulated population of 1,000 individuals who prefer their own "position" within a fixed range of values, we can randomly set both their starting values and their preferred position (or "comfort zone"). How close they get to their preferred positions depends on two variables: power and intelligence.
We can set ranges of power and intelligence for the population and randomly assign values of power and intelligence to each member of the population. For ease of analysis, we can combine the ranges of power and intelligence into a single variable called "adjusted power." Adjusted power starts with no power and ends with maximum power and (positive) intelligence. From 0 to 25% of the maximum, intelligence is entirely negative; from 25% to 75% intelligence is a mix of negative and positive, and from 75% to 100% intelligence is entirely positive.
Happiness and Adjusted Power
People's satisfaction with their lives has been measured in various countries. This "happiness" can be modelled in the simulated population (specifically, it is the ratio two numbers: the distance between a person's final position and the furthest point they can go from their preferred position, and the distance between their preferred position and that furthest point). Happiness varies measurably with adjusted power, so from happiness we can derive the associated adjusted power.
There are clear correlations between happiness and such real variables as freedom, life expectancy, per capita ecological footprint, per capita violence, and population growth (these are described in Happiness). We can therefore see how these variables change with adjusted power. We can also see how the fraction of the population that has positive intelligence (what I call "awareness") varies by country. This data is summarized below for a sample of 43 countries for which all the statistics are available, and includes statistical curve fits to the data that extend beyond the data's limit to 100% adjusted power.
Note that as intelligence becomes entirely positive, resource use and violence peak. After that point, people start using less, assaulting each other less, and continue to become more satified with their lives. Freedom also drops, perhaps because people have enough power that they don't need any more from their governments.
Also note that per capita Gross Domestic Product roughly predicts happiness and, to some extent, lifespan up to a point, beyond which it has little effect.
© Copyright 2008 Bradley Jarvis. All rights reserved.