Happy Planet Index measures the degree in which countries encourage
long, happy, adequate lives for their people. It informs us how well a country
is doing at achieving well-sustained lives while using natural resources
efficiently. “The Happy Planet Index provides a compass to guide nations, and
demonstrates that it is conceivable to live great lives without costing the
Earth.” HPI was introduces by the New Economic Foundation (NEF) in 2006.
The Happy Planet Index is measured by using
data of well-being, life expectancy, inequality of outcomes, and ecological
Well-being: How satisfied
the citizens of every nation say they feel with life, on a scale from 0 to 10.
Life expectancy: The average
number of years a person is expected to live in each country.
outcomes: “The inequalities between people within a country based on the
distribution in each country’s life expectancy and well-being. It is expressed
as a percentage. ”
Eco footprints: How much land
is needed to sustain a person’s life. The average impact on the environment.
To get the
perfect score, a country should have high levels of well-being as well as life
expectancy, with a small eco footprint, and that is what every nation strives
advantages to HPI including measuring the environmental sustainability relative
to citizen’s well-being, and offering a clear path to a sustainable future
while preserving natural resources. It also has its disadvantages.One of the disadvantages of HPI is that “it disregards issues such as
political freedom, human rights, or labor rights. Also, the available data is not always satisfactory”
(data from Gallup World Poll for well-being, United Nations for life
expectancy, Global Footprint Network for eco footprint). The name “Happy Planet
Index” may be misleading, because it does not measure the happiness in each
country, instead it measures the ecological efficiency in achieving
satisfaction in a country.
Happy Planet Index is proven to be
inaccurate, specifically shown in countries such as Burma, Guinea, Libya, North
Korea, Sudan, and Egypt. These countries all suffer from abuse and violation of
human rights. But people affected by extreme human right abuse in these
countries represent a minority, where this harm is not involved in the HPI
score of a nation.
Errors of HPI
calculations are also proven in Colombia. It is stated that Colombia ranks in
the top 5 of the Happy Planet Index. But how is that possible if Colombia is
known as one of the world’s largest drug exporters, which has a definite effect
on well-being of its citizens.
To conclude, “The Happy Planet
Index is a simple way to evaluate how efficiently countries are using natural
resources to lead long, happy lives.” And although it is known for its simplicity,
the results are not always precise, thus making it unreliable.