Tag Archives: GDP

Is Happiness Relevant to Development?

There are differing opinions on what poverty and development are and the role that happiness plays in them (see for example Development Roast’s January article ‘Opinion: Why happiness does not matter for the problem of poverty’). Aside from poverty itself, the world’s view on how to conceptualize and measure development has evolved over time. Factors that years ago were considered completely irrelevant to development are increasingly incorporated into our collective understanding of what it means to advance and the new directions of the concept’s evolution are proving highly interesting.

It is safe to assume that everyone wants to be happy; happiness is often referred to as the ultimate goal of existence at the individual level. However, a global scale evaluation of happiness levels, in relation to nations’ development, is rare since, for some, its natural subjectivity makes it inadequate for the analysis of progress. However, slowly, over time, views are changing. Read More »

Graphics: Is there more to life than money? Mapping happiness of people and planet.

It has been long established that national measures of wealth, such as the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), do not tell the whole story of people’s lives. The search for a more inclusive representation of what is important has been on for a few decades. The Human Development Index (HDI), for example, was first published in 1990 by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) as a direct response to Amartya Sen’s capability approach. This Nobel Prize winning economist’s groundbreaking insights argued that governments should not only focus on increasing citizens’ monetary wealth, but on ensuring that they are able and capable of achieving their dreams, goals and full potential in the society they live in. The HDI, which was co-created by Sen himself, is a composite measure that takes into account the GDP, life expectancy and education levels in each country. Although it is still by no means perfect, since its conception, critiques of the HDI, namely measurement errors and the important things it still does not capture, have been incrementally addressed and incorporated into later versions. For example, the 2010 HDI was the first to factor in inequalities in the three mesaures between the world’s nations, creating a separate Inequality-adjusted Human Development Index (IHDI). You can download the full 2011 country rankings here.

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