Task 2: Standards of Living & Happiness

by katrin
(new york)

So i tried a (single) opinion essay:
I made 7 in the writing section on my first attempt to do IELTS but really need 8. So any critique is welcome.

Although modern life has brought with it improvements in people's standard of living, people are not generally happy with their lives.

In many countries modern life has improved people's standard of living, but people seem nevertheless generally not more happy with their lives. This can be regarded as a surprise with the level of prosperity at a historic high. We will show that improvements in people's living conditions do not necessary advance people's overall feeling of happiness as other factors might play an important role.

To begin happiness is hard to define as different people may have very different concepts of happiness, but directly correlating standard of living with happiness is likely oversimplifying their relationship. While good life conditions certainly contribute to happiness, people in poor countries frequently express a surprisingly high levels of happiness in opinion polls. For some people fulfilling work and social relationships probably add more to happiness than being able to afford luxury goods.

Furthermore people might not even compare their current standard of living to the standard of the past. Instead they are more likely to see how they are holding up with their neighbours or community. So in their perception their standard of living might not even seem very high relative to their peers. In additional in countries with high standard of living an increase might not make a major difference to the individuals standard of living.

Also economic advancement comes with some side effects for the entire society and individuals. While it improves prosperity it can hurt other social requirements and needs. There might be more traffic and pollution. Individuals may face higher pressure as well as greater complexity in the work place and find less time to spent with families and friends.

Happiness is humankind's never-ending quest and improving standard of living is probably not the only or even the central key to it. Economists are already looking for a more suitable way of measuring happiness than wealth. It remains to hope that people and societies in the future focus less on economic advancement but on more sustainable ways to reach happiness.

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IELTS buddy
Feedback:

Here are some of the errors:

We will show = I will show

not necessary advance = not necessarily advance

To begin = To begin, (comma after transitions)

standard of living = standards of living

a surprisingly high levels = surprisingly high levels (‘levels’ is plural so no article

Furthermore = Furthermore, (comma after transitions)

In additional = In addition, (transition)

Also = Also, (transition)

While it improves prosperity it = While it improves prosperity, it...

Spent = spend

I think it’s a very good answer, with only minimal mistakes (see above), and most the content is relevant.

I think though you have a slight problem with this point:

“Furthermore people might not even compare their current standard of living to the standard of the past. Instead they are more likely to see how they are holding up with their neighbours or community. So in their perception their standard of living might not even seem very high relative to their peers.”

I’m not really sure what point you are making when you talk about comparing yourself with your neighbours and peers. I assume you mean that in the past, ‘community’ was more important so this is how people judged each other. But I should not need to ‘guess’ what point you are making. It should always be clear.

Also, although you can make reference to the past in the context of saying that lifestyles before were simpler and maybe people were happier, the way you have mentioned the past is not really clear – you have said people ‘might not even compare...” but it has not been said anywhere before, by you or in the question that anyone is comparing past and modern lifestyles.

In the same paragraph:

“In additional in countries with high standard of living an increase might not make a major difference to the individuals standard of living.”

This could do with more explanation (though you have enough words already).

So, overall, it’s a very good essay and you definitely have potential to get a high score.

There are few grammar errors and good vocabulary.

But for band 8 you are talking about writing nearly perfectly, so you need to try to avoid even minor errors and try to improve paragraphs like the second one.

Like I said on urch forums, it is possible you made an error in answering the question, but I’m just guessing.

Hope that helps. Let me know if you have anymore questions.

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