HAPPINESS DOESN’T COST THE EARTH
HAPPINESS DOESN’T COST THE EARTH
2006-07-12 at 12:18:00 pm #15962
Happiness doesn’t cost the Earth
People can live long, happy lives without consuming large amounts of the Earth’s resources, a survey suggests.
The 178-nation “Happy Planet Index” lists the south Pacific island of
Vanuatu as the happiest nation on the planet, while the UK is ranked
The index is based on consumption levels, life
expectancy and happiness, rather than national economic wealth
measurements such as GDP.
The study was compiled by think-tank the New Economics Foundation (Nef).
Size doesn’t matter
One of the authors, Nef’s Nic Marks, said the aim of the index was to
show that well-being did not have to be linked to high levels of
‘HAPPIEST PLACE ON EARTH’
GDP/capita: $2,900 (£1,575)
Resources: forests, fish
Economy: agriculture, tourism
Environmental issues: deforestation and clean water
Source: CIA Handbook 2006
“It is clear that no single nation listed in the index has got
everything right, but it does reveal patterns that show how we might
better achieve long and happy lives for all while living within our
environmental means,” Mr Marks said.
The small island state of Vanuatu is situated in the middle
of the South Pacific Ocean, and has a population of 209,000. Its
economy is built around small-scale agriculture and tourism.
Latin American nations dominate the top 10 places in
the index, while African and Eastern European nations fill most of the
Among the world’s largest economies, Germany is ranked 81st, Japan 95th, while the US comes in at 150th.
Richard Layard, director of the Well-Being Programme at the London
School of Economics’ Centre for Economic Performance, said that the
index was an interesting way to tackle the issue of modern life’s
“It reminds us that it is not good enough to be happy today if we are impoverishing future generations through global warming.
“Over the last 50 years, living standards in the West have improved
enormously but we have become no happier,” Mr Layard told the BBC.
“This shows we should not sacrifice human
relationships, which are the main source of happiness, for the sake of
Although Vanuatu tops the happiness index, it is ranked
207th out of 233 economies when measured against Gross Domestic Product
Simon Bullock, economics co-ordinator for Friends of
the Earth, which helped compile the data, said the findings showed that
happiness did not have to cost the Earth.
“The UK economy hoovers up vast quantities of the
world’s scarce resources, yet British people are no happier than
Colombians, who use far fewer,” he said.
“The current crude focus on GDP is outdated, destructive and doesn’t deliver a better quality of life.”
Nef is calling for the adoption of a “global manifesto for a happier
planet” that will list ways nations can live within their environmental
limits and increase people’s quality of life. The recommendations
Eradicating extreme poverty and hunger
Recognising the contribution of individuals and unpaid work
Ensuring economic policies stay within environmental limits
The index builds on a report that Nef published earlier this year that
warned if annual global consumption levels matched the UK’s, it would
take 3.1 Earths to meet the demand.