Sunday Reads

China’s Economy Is Strong, But Its People Are Not Happier
Carol Graham of the Brookings Institution examines the interesting contraction in China where citizens may be wealthier but they are not happier.

“GDP per capita and household consumption increased fourfold between the years 1990 and 2005, and life expectancy climbed to 75.3 years from 67 years in 1980. Yet during the same period, life satisfaction levels plummeted. Levels dropped precipitously in the initial stages of rapid growth, beginning in 1995, and slowly began to recover beginning in 2005,” she reports.

Graham, in another paper released this month, found a somewhat similar paradox elsewhere.

“Our more recent work on the well-being of migrants is suggestive along these lines. We find potential migrants from Latin America (and in some transition economies) are wealthier and more educated than the average, but also less happy and more critical of their economic situations prior to migrating. They then tend to make modest gains in well-being once they actually migrate,” writes Graham, who collaborated with two Chinese researchers to explore the disconnect occurring in China between wealth and mental health.

First-Ever Index Of Charitable Giving Worldwide
The Hudson Institute has compiled the first-ever Index of Philanthropic Freedom 2015, which measured, ranked, and compared countries on their ease of giving in order to identify the public policy actions that could encourage private giving and increase generosity.

“Conducting the philanthropic freedom survey in 2014-2015 was especially interesting because of various developments affecting philanthropic freedom throughout the world. Foreign exchange regulations and capital controls made it more difficult for organizations and individuals to engage in global philanthropy in both developed and developing countries, especially Argentina and Venezuela. In post- Soviet States, 2014 also marked the enforcement of ‘Foreign Agent’ laws designed to curtail the activities of CSOs supporting human rights and government transparency,” the report noted.


The Battle Over Jerusalem
Rich Epstein of the Hoover Institution reacts to the Supreme Court’s recent ruling that struck down part of a federal statute Monday that allowed Americans born in Jerusalem to record in their passport “Israel” as the place of birth.

“To add ‘Israel’ would have required the State Department to acknowledge to the world that Jerusalem is that country’s capital,” Epstein writes, adding that the four liberal justices and conservative Justice Clarence Thomas held that Congress could not require the President to add “Israel” to the birthplace.

“This case raises some interesting questions. First, why all of the fuss over a single word, ‘Israel,’ being added to someone’s passport? Second, why did most of the conservative justices defer to Congress on this decision, rather than delegate the power to the president?” he wonders.

Summer Reading List
In this special edition, Council on Foreign Relations editor Robert McMahon, CFR’s Director of Studies Jim Lindsay and Senior Fellow for Defense Policy Janine Davidson start off the summer with a list of books that they will be reading in the weeks ahead. Listen in for recommendations from their reading list

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