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Happy Planet Index June 16, 2012

Posted by dtenjo in Society.
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I read this week in the news that Costa Rica, Vietnam, and Colombia are the three happiest countries on earth. I always wondered how this could be possible, especially about Vietnam and Colombia, countries with well documented social, political and economic issues. I mean, fine, people can be happy on those countries, but what about all the efforts that along history mankind has made to generate well-being and development? Some countries have done very well at generating development as we know it, so does having countries that evidently still have issues to resolve reflect higher levels of  “happiness” mean that all the efforts in generating development and wellbeing have been futile because they are not really generating happiness in people?

I looked into the Happy Planet Index, and realized that this index is calculated based on three measures with are Experienced Well-being, Life Expectancy, and Ecological Footprint. Experienced well-being is obtained based on surveying populations of each country regarding how they think their life is going. Then, the HPI is calculated by multiplying the Expected Well-being by the Life Expectancy, and dividing that by the ecological footprint.

I then took a look at the results of this year’s HPI results, and realized that in the case of Colombia, there are counties with much higher results under the experienced well-being category, and obviously there are many that have a higher life expectancy. So, the reason why Colombia ranks so high up on the HPI index is mostly because of the low ecological footprint. This is great to know that Colombia has a low ecological footprint, but remember that part of this might be due to low economic development of the country, and hardly a low ecological footprint of a country has a direct relationship with people’s happiness.

In addition, the Experienced Well-being index is based on polls, and gets the results from what the majority of the population thinks, and let’s remember that in countries where there are human rights issues, and parts of the population are disadvantaged, it is the minority of the population who suffers this.

So, while it is great to read that Colombia ranks high in the HPI, it is important to take it with a grain of salt. News saying that the country constantly ranks high among the “Happiest Countries on Earth” might be somewhat deceiving. This is just the “Happy Planet Index” and does not necessarily mean that because a country ranks high on this, their people in general are happy.

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Comments»

1. amandagraves55762 - April 8, 2016

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