Monday, May 9, 2011

Towards a more comprehensive metric

Until now countries’ success has been measured by their GDP, Gross Domestic Product. In my opinion, purely economic growth can’t express completely the total well-being of a country’s inhabitants. Aren’t there other metrics to determine national wellbeing?

This social study area has been given renewed attention since the end of 2009 when Sarkozy commissioned Nobel Prize winners Joseph Stiglitz and Armatya Sen and many others to think about how to construct such a metric and to determine its possible hurdles. Out of such research, French policy makers should be able to deduct the determinants of people’s happiness on which consequently social policy can be build. Also, this metric should be taken into account when analyzing a country’s GDP and will increase therefore the importance of national wellbeing and sustainability in a country.

In my opinion, happiness increases when the unemployment rate decreases. When one has a job, one feels part of a larger group and has a reason to get up in the morning. Next to this, access to health and a good work – life balance seem to me other vital determinants of people’s happiness. Next to this I think with the installation of a happiness index, social policy will gain in importance at the expense of economic policy which has by far the upper hand in politics nowadays.

Let’s also think about what this phenomenon means for one’s personal life. If wellbeing and sustainability are more often addressed in future politics, we might also on a personal level value the non-economic parts of life stronger. This was an important topic of many parties ‘agenda during the General Elections of last week.

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