On the difficulty of measuring happiness, after the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network published its World Happiness Report 2015, which ranked Singapore as the 24th happiest country out of 158 around the world.
Read “The Trouble With Measuring Happiness“, and here’s a short excerpt:
“It could be further argued that – notwithstanding these limitations, of yes-no questions for example – these socio-economic indicators do not correlate well with “happiness” in the first place.
The interest with happiness as an indicator for national development can be traced to the Bhutanese concept of Gross National Happiness (GNH), crafted in response to the use of Gross Domestic Product – an aggregate measurement of national income – to determine standards of living. In this vein researchers generally use two broad methodologies to measure the levels of happiness around the world: surveys with citizens (as it was with the 2012 Gallup survey and a 2013 national workplace survey which found employees to be “Under Happy”), or indices which score countries based on multiple statistics (such as the Happy Planet Index and other country indices, including in Bhutan). The World Happiness Report by the SDSN appears to be a mix of both.
These methods may differ, but ultimately the aim of academic research is to challenge the conventional wisdom of using economic indicators to ascertain the growth of a country. The UN has challenged governments to consider sustainable development, cultural values, conservation, and good governance when assessing process. And Singapore should – beyond arbitrary concerns of whether its citizens are “happy” or “unhappy” – take the lead.”