How Do You Measure Happiness?

Costa Rica has officially been named the happiest place to live in the world by The Happy Planet Index. The study compiled data from 151 different countries to measure where people are living happy, sustainable lives.

So, exactly how does one measure happiness, and does living happily really matter? The HPI or Happy Planet Index looks at three different factors to determine if people are happy in a certain country. First, it looks at general well-being, by studying a Gallup World Poll that uses the “Ladder of Life” method, The poll asks people to rate their life on a scale of 0-10, with 0 being the worst possible life and 10 being the best. Denmark, Canada  and Norway finished in the top three with Togo coming in last. Then they take that number and multiply it by each country’s life expectancy using data from a 2011 United Nations study. Japan has the highest at nearly 84 years – almost twice that of Sierra Leone, which has the lowest life expectancy at only 47.8 years.

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The study also factors in each country’s ecological footprint. This statistic is important to the HPI because it’s directly connected to the sustainability of a country’s happiness – as a country becomes more polluted and less able to produce resources like food, the less likely it is that they’ll have a good or long life. To get their final scores, they take the Ladder of Life average, multiplied by life expectancy, and divide that by the ecological footprint. So, that’s how Costa Rica, Vietnam, and Colombia were named the happiness places in to live.

But, is this an accurate assessment? Are they happier than other nations? Well, I guess it depends on how you define happy. The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development declared Australia as the happiest country, based on eleven different statistics like education, personal security and income. A 2013 report by the UN listed Denmark at the top, using GDP, life expectancy, and corruption levels – among other things. Or maybe you judge happiness on topics not being, like homicide, unemployment or gun rights.

See, that’s the problem with ranking countries by happiness. Happiness is subjective, and one that we may not be able to accurately track across all countries. But that obviously isn’t going to stop anyone from trying. In fact, the UN thinks tracking happiness is so important that they passed a resolution on it in 2011, saying that countries now need to start tracking happiness.

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And as far as criteria for happiness goes, and Happy Planet Index is pretty simple. They asked people if they were happy, looked at how long those people were potentially going to live, and them divided that by how sustainable their environment is.

Source : NowThis

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