The Happy Planet Index is born as an alternative to Gross Domestic Product (GDP), which measures a country’s financial well-being. While GDP is probably the most well-known way to qualify for a country’s wealth, it doesn’t say much about the reality of living anywhere.
In an effort to better measure a country’s welfare (rather than its resources), alternatives such as the Happy Planet Index have been effective.
How does GDP evaluate a country’s economy?
GDP measures the world’s top economies based on the price of food and services produced in a country. Although GDP can fluctuate, it is rare for a country to be out of the top 25 list. Most countries with strong economies remain on the list for decades, even in times of economic recession.
According to Investopedia, the top 25 countries have the largest share of the global economy. The remaining 168 are not on the list, which is less than one-fifth of the total global economy.
The top five countries in terms of GDP are the United States, China, Japan, Germany and India. The United Kingdom ranks sixth among other countries in Europe. Nevertheless, the ranges are very wide even among the tops. The nominal GDP of the United States is 21 21 trillion, the GDP of Germany is just under 4 4 trillion and that of the United Kingdom is $ 2.83 trillion.
What about the Happy Planet Index?
The Happy Planet Index (HPI) measures wellness based on four points:
- Life expectancy at birth
- How satisfied the citizens of the country are with life as a whole
- Outcome inequality (inequality between people in the same country)
- The overall environmental footprint of each person
According to the official Happy Planet Index website, the measurement basically tells us “how well the nations are doing in terms of achieving a long, happy sustainable life.” The index ranks countries as green (the highest achievable level in the auspicious planet index), yellow and red.
Considering these four factors, some very interesting results are obtained. For starters, most industrialized countries that rank too high on the GDP index do poorly on the Happy Planet index. An exception is Norway, which ranks 12th with a high score in everything except its environmental footprint.
Other green nations include Mexico, Nicaragua and Thailand. The UK is ranked 34th (yellow) out of 140 countries, with very poor environmental health and a score of just 6.9 out of 10 for overall well-being.
Problems with the Happy Planet Index
Not everyone agrees that measuring happiness or environmental well-being gives an accurate picture of how well a country is doing. The financial image of a nation is just as important, especially as it provides an opportunity for the population to grow.
The Happy Planet Index ranks countries like the United States, Canada, and Australia at the bottom of the list (red). European countries do not rent very well. However, there are some African countries where poverty, human rights violations and famine are common.
Part of the problem is that happiness is a very subject matter to measure. Similarly, a nation’s environmental footprint tends to be lower if poverty prevents its citizens from achieving things. If citizens cannot afford cars or bottled water, the country’s environmental impact will naturally be less. But lack of funds can hinder the provision of good quality medical services or education to the citizens, which will reduce the standard of living.
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