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ranking our happiness

Anne Dalke's picture

Reading through the tasks David assigned for this week, I was intrigued by his mention of alternative measures of welfare, including Bhutan's Gross National Happiness Index. My brother-in-law, an environmental consultant in Portland, Oregon, was happy to point out that ideas like this get taken seriously in Oregon (did you know this, Lisa?). Another brother-in-law, a Maine environmentalist, called my attention to two other rankings of national happiness, apparently inspired by Bhutan's index, but using different criteria. The "domains" used in the U.N. study appear to be primarily the conventional economic ones; i.e. rich and ecologically wasteful countries rank high (U.S. 17th behind other developed countries), while the New Economics Foundation's Happy Planet Index gives more attention to ecology; e.g. how much happiness is currently achieved at the expense of future generations (U.S. ranks 114th; 9 of top 10 are Caribbean basin nations, with Costa Rica #1).