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 footprints. 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.
Inequality of 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 to do.
With several 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.