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Thread: The happiness index set to replace GDP as a success indicator?

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    Site Caretaker Dave A's Avatar
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    The happiness index set to replace GDP as a success indicator?

    So now we have a new success indicator - the happiness index.
    President Nicolas Sarkozy's talk of creating a new growth and well-being index for France is part of a mounting global campaign that many economists believe will shape civilisation and democracy in the 21st century.

    Sarkozy presented his recruitment of Nobel prize-winning economists Jospeh Stiglitz and Amartya Sen to work on a quality-of-life index as part of a "policy of civilisation" to reform French institutions.

    "We must change the way we measure growth," he declared last week.

    This puts France among well over 100 countries in which work is being done on putting quality-of-life, or so-called "happiness" indicators, into the measurement of growth. The list ranges from the Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan to the United States, and the European Union is doing extensive work on the subject. Australia has taken a lead.

    The main measurement of growth is gross domestic product quantifying the production of goods and services. Many organisations also produce indicators of well-being on such matters as damage to the environment, corruption, respect for Parliament and the law, religious and family life, education and personal fulfilment.

    Stiglitz said economists have felt for a long time that GDP is not a good measure because "it doesn't measure changes in well-being ... It doesn't necessarily mean that there will be a replacement of current measures, but maybe a construction of complementary measures.

    "I think that on all sides of the political spectrum there is a recognition of these deficiencies ... no matter whether you are on the left or the right," he said.

    The Paris-based Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development has been working for three years on ways to make economic statistics meaningful to people and is engaged with other international bodies on a global project on "measuring the progress of society".
    full story from M&G here
    The trouble with opportunity is it normally comes dressed up as work.

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    This should be the ONLY index. What is the point of life if not happiness and contentment - whatever that means to the individual and NOT measured according to someone else's idea of what happiness is.
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    agree 100%...be happy & you will attract whatever is necessary to be happy moving forward.

    interesting to see how this concept could be monitored in terms of countries as a whole.

    certainly, good advice for individuals.

    regards, joe

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    Site Caretaker Dave A's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Debbiedle View Post
    whatever that means to the individual and NOT measured according to someone else's idea of what happiness is.
    I think this is where it could get tricky. A person's own sense of well-being can be quite inconsistent. By that I mean we can be happier with less at times, and conversely actually be unhappy with more.

    The classic example - when someone isn't happy with their pay increase.
    If nothing else has really changed, they are better off in real terms. And yet the increase might not meet their personal expectations and they're now "unhappy."

    One of the issues I see that simply looking at GDP doesn't address is how the growth is spread. And perhaps more obviously, at what life-style cost. If we look at South Africa we've had all this growth in GDP, but has it really dented the unemployment figures?

    Before getting into formulas, the first question is probably "What elements should be part of the formula?"
    The trouble with opportunity is it normally comes dressed up as work.

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    What elements? *scratches head??* with 3 spare minutes today this is what I would include

    available time - to spend with family and/or friends of choice
    health - availability of good stress free health care
    safety - ability to conduct life without fearing for safety
    money - availability, access to.
    knowledge - availabilty of (an unmonitored) internet
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    Debbie
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    Site Caretaker Dave A's Avatar
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    Debbie - that looks fantastic. The only ones I can think of right now to add is:

    choice - the freedom to make personal choices in respect of one's personal life
    opportunity - reasonable access to realising one's potential should one choose to
    impoverished % - the proportion of the total population that has to live on less than a predetermined percentage of average per capita income
    The trouble with opportunity is it normally comes dressed up as work.

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    just me duncan drennan's Avatar
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    Aren't all of these mentioned items the things enshrined in our constitution?
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    They mostly are Duncan! So let's investigate......

    who has enough time on their hands?
    who feels that health care is both good and affordable?
    who feels that they are well supported financially should they be jobless?
    who feels that they can walk to their neighbour 4 blocks down for a quick cuppa and a chat over the garden wall at 10h30 at night when you both cannot sleep!
    who feels that they can view their opinions publically and freely without being targeted by some group or other?
    who feels that they can choose exactly (without exception) how they want to live their live without any interference from governments?
    who feels that they have more opportunities than obstacles in life?
    who knows and hears about more wealthy good fortune stories than stories of poverty?

    In my opinion the constitution is a really great benchmark, the reality for most people is somewhat different though?
    Regards

    Debbie
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    just me duncan drennan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Debbiedle View Post
    In my opinion the constitution is a really great benchmark, the reality for most people is somewhat different though?
    Definitely! My point being that the things we want to measure are in our constitution – as you say, it is the benchmark.

    The challenge is to change our reality, which can sometimes be counterintuitive (I think). For example: does building a wall really protect us from crime? Supposedly yes, but it also breaks down community (little more difficult to have a cuppa over the fence with your neighbour with a 10ft wall between you). If we break down community does that make us more or less susceptible to crime? I think the more isolated we are, the more vulnerable we are.

    Another example may be good health access. Anyone who can afford to pays for a medical aid, but does that really provide us with better and cheaper health care? Medical aids are (mostly) for-profit companies. That means squeezing the client and their suppliers for the best deals. I'm sure many people can recount a story of landing with a FAT hospital bill (and even a huge deposit before they will see you!) even if they have supposed "full cover." What would happen if we all put that money into the public health system? Would we have a generally better or worse access to health care? In America you can't get health care if you are not paying medical insurance. Cuba has one of the best health care systems in the world. Which model should we really be following?
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    Duncan I believe as a human race we have shot ourselves in the foot big time and the burden we have placed on our offspring and their offspring is huge. Most of us have huge difficulty defining our own happiness at any given time, never mind recognising and appreciating it and even pursuing it.
    Regards

    Debbie
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