11 Dec 2017

Economist Marie Briguglio: culturally active citizens are happier

Having studied the effects of Malta’s "festas," Briguglio notes that it's active participation that increases life satisfaction. “Those who are passive tend to experience noise, pollution and congestion,” she adds.

Daiva Repeckaite
Daiva Repeckaite NewsMavens, Malta
Economist Marie Briguglio: culturally active citizens are happier - NewsMavens
Marie Briguglio. Photo: Geoffrey Zarb Adami

Why this story matters:

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Having studied the effects of Malta’s plethora of "festas" -- religious feasts with fireworks, bands and processions -- Marie Briguglio notes that it's mainly active participation that increases life satisfaction. “Those who are passive tend to experience noise, pollution and congestion,” she adds.

Briguglio, an expert on behavioural economics at the University of Malta, wowed her audience at the recent Valletta 2018 conference by suggesting that that the science of Economics is ultimately about enhancing (and measuring) wellbeing, where finance, GDP and inflation are only measurable proxies.

The conference, organised ahead of the series of events planned for next year, when Valletta is set to become the European Capital of Culture, focused on making sure that events like this do not leave residents behind. Malta is experiencing an economic boom, accompanied by a rapid inflation of property prices. Valletta is particularly vulnerable to gentrification. In the interview, Briguglio tells NewsMavens curator Daiva Repečkaitė about her checklist of what policymakers could do to keep these processes at bay.

Details from the story:

  • Valletta will be the European Capital of Culture in 2018, with a promise of a year-long festa.
  • Rising property prices, however, force its residents into competition with boutique hotels and holiday accommodation.
  • Among the EU countries, Malta tops the list in terms of population density and obesity rates, but is at the bottom when it comes to recycling. Environmental factors are behind the key health concerns identified in the interview.
  • Having researched life satisfaction in Malta for many years, Dr Marie Briguglio has found it correlates significantly with only active participation in cultural events - not passive exposure to culture.
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