Happy Planet ≠ Happy People

Dave Killion — July 3, 2012

The “Happy Planet Index” was delivered up to us recently, courtesy of the New Economics Foundation. After seeing it, I strove to make up some joke about the NEF being less a think tank than a septic tank, but I decided not to disparage a thing so useful as a septic tank. What does the index purport to do? –

“The new HPI results show the extent to which 151 countries across the globe produce long, happy and sustainable lives for the people that live in them.  The overall index scores rank countries based on their efficiency, how many long and happy lives each produces per unit of environmental output.”

There are been other indices like this, such as the Human Development Index, but most of them seem to be measurements of how Swedish a country is. Sweden usually does well, and Canada, too, since Canada is pretty Swedish. The US is less Swedish, and consistently ranks lower. However, neither Sweden nor Sweden-like countries do well in the Happy Planet Index. In fact, the top rankings go to places like Cuba and Honduras. Apparently the planet hates people, and is only happy when they suffer brutally. As far as the New Economics Foundation is concerned, the sooner everyone in the world lives in banana-republic squalor, the better. I can hardly wait, and I bet the planet will be ecstatic.

Comments

Aitzaz says

I think you need to understand this index better before making a comment about it.. I can clearly see that you have no idea what this index is about and what results are indicating. So do some research first.

— October 3, 2012

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