Wednesday, July 12, 2006

The (Un)Happy Planet?

I found an interesting article on today discussing the happiset countries on the planet.

The index is calculated by multiplying Life Satisfaction by Life Expectancy, and dividing the result by the county's ecological footprint. It reflects the "average years of happy life produced by a given society, nation or group of nations, per unit of planetary resources consumed," or "the efficiency with which countries convert the earth's finite resources into well-being experienced by their citizens."

The results were surprising. The tiny nation of Vanuatu (made famous with the help of reality tv in the form of Survivor) ranked first among the 178 nations surveyed. With the G8 summit coming up, it is interesting to note that none of the leading industrialized nations made the Top 50. Even more sad, but maybe not surprising, the US ranked at 150, with a HPI (Happy Planet Index) of 28.8. At the onset of the study, researchers set a "resonable target" at 83.5. However, they found that none of the countries studied scored higher than 68.2.

On a more self-revealing note, the site allows you to calculate your own HPI. I sadly scored a 27.2. Slightly lower than the US average, around that of Latvia.

Check it out at at let me know how you score - hopefully some of my friends are "happier" than I am when rated on the HPI!

Also, what do you think of the theory behind the measure? Does it make more sense than the typical, more purely economic measure of GDP?

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