Published On: Wed, May 2nd, 2012

Happiness of countries: New indicator to include in governments policies

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By Ph.D.  Nubia Nieto

Recently, in the United Kingdom the Prime Minister, David Cameron, expressed his interest for improving Britain’s general happiness, and the Office for National Statistics published results from a large official well-being survey in the UK carried out among 80, 000 adults. The survey inquired about general life satisfaction, how worthwhile they thought their life was, how happy or anxious they felt the previous day.

Parallel, in France the President Nicolas Sarkozy asked a study to Amartya Sen and Joseph Stiglitz, both Nobel Price, to measure the levels of happiness of his country. Equally, the Europeans countries lunched a survey, namely European Social Survey, to explain the interaction between Europe’s changing institutions and the attitudes, beliefs and behaviour patterns of its diverse populations. This survey also included the happiness as an indicator of well-being for Europeans.

On the other hand, the United Nations Program for Development (UNDP) that publish every year the “Human Development Index” (HDI), which uses data such as levels of education, heath, gender equality, or quality of the environment to asses the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of States, recently has included also the happiness of people as indicator to evaluate the well-being of people and economic performance.

In April of this year was organised the forum in New York about “happiness” organised by the Kingdom of Bhutan, The Himalayas, to the United Nations headquarters in order to analyse the indicators to measure the development of nations.

In this context, it is seems that many countries are worried to measure the happiness of their population not only to ensure political stability, but also to use these data to decide government policies and pointer their priorities in political agenda, particularly in times where the economy is not performing excellent for West economies.

For example, in the United Kingdom happiness may be influenced by the family income, education, employment patterns, racial equality, retirement age and social activities, therefore the levels of happiness of Britons, are significantly less satisfied with their lives than the general population – a score of 6.6 out of 10 compared with a national average of 7.4.

In the past, happiness was more a philosophical and personal question, however nowadays it is a real question that worries not only to individuals in their private sphere,   but also to public policies and political parties that might  use the result to design their political campaigns.

Many surveys carried out in Europe seem to have a similar outcome: high unemployment, increases anxiety, augmentation of the gap between rich and poor, and reduction quality of living.  Therefore, it seems to be that the decline of West brings about the unhappiness of their people and a cause for concern for European governments.



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  1. peter hobday says:

    Only ‘6.6 out of 10′ for Britons? Sounds about right. That is why we come to the Yucatan where it goes up to 10 out of 10.

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