Ranking Happiness – The Happy Planet Index (HPI)


IMAGE: Tad Rieder

There have been tremendous gains over the last few decades, and over time in general, for the development of both happiness and sustainability with improvements in livelihoods and general health around the world.

It is part of a global agenda to have a happier, healthier, and greener, and more sustainable planet. It is tied into the progress of nations. Countries are progressing if you track them on metrics of citizen well-being and infrastructural development.

The World Economic Forum (WEF) reported with the Happy Planet Index (HPI) on that progress: “There’s wealth, there’s health, there’s basic human freedoms.” Indeed. Those are good factors in a measurement.

In fact, these factors, or “criteria,” are included in a number of rankings: “the Better Life Index to the Sustainable Economic Development Assessment and the World Happiness Report.

With the newest measurement, the HPI, these factors come into the metric with the additional inclusion of sustainability.

The calculation is as follows: “take the well-being and longevity of a population, measure how equally both are distributed, then set the result against each country’s ecological footprint.” That is, the life span, health span, and ecological footprint as a single index.

Ecological footprint as a factor related to sustainability. Sustainable societies produce less of an impact on the environment. The wealthiest countries found in the West and the progressive Nordic nations do not make the top of the list for this particular metric, or index, the HPI.

Nation states in the top 10 tend to be the “Latin American and Asia Pacific countries” with “green and pleasant land.” For the “third time,” Costa Rica is the “happiest and most sustainable country on Earth.”

Life expectancy is 78.5 years, which is older than the US. The health and wealth come to about ¼ of the cost compared to the US. Some reasons include, if all factors for the HPI are taken into account, “99% of the country’s electricity supply is said to come from renewable sources, and the government has pledged to make the country carbon neutral by 2021.”

As well, the investment in social programmes: education, health, and no national army since 1949.  “Wealthier Western countries tend to score highly when it comes to life expectancy and well-being, but the high environmental cost of their way of life sees their ratings plummet,” the WEF said.

About Scott Jacobsen 318 Articles
Scott Douglas Jacobsen is the Founder of In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal and In-Sight Publishing. Jacobsen works for science and human rights, especially women’s and children’s rights. He considers the modern scientific and technological world the foundation for the provision of the basics of human life throughout the world and advancement of human rights as the universal movement among peoples everywhere.

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