(Un)Happy Nations


March, 20th is the United Nations’ International Day of Happiness, recognising ‘the importance of happiness in the lives of people around the world’. Bhutan is credited as the first country to have implemented the concept of ‘Gross National Happiness’ as an official measure for the state of a nation, introduced in 1972. After the global financial crash in 2008, ideas about giving the ‘spiritual, physical, social and environmental health of [people] and natural environment’ more prominence over mere economic development are reflected more and more in international efforts towards a sustainable future.
The Happy Planet Index (HPI), developed by the New Economics Foundation, takes a rather radical approach on this issue. It aims to measure well-being and happiness by taking a universal and long-term approach to understanding, how efficiently people in a country are using their environmental resources to live long and happy lives.
This cartogram maps the results of the 2016 Happy Planet Index from the perspective of people. The gridded population cartogram shows the world resized according to the number of people living in each area, combined with the national HPI score:

Cartogram Map of the Happy Planet Index
(click for larger version including additional detail)

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Mapping people, not sheep: Why our planet’s well-being can look so different

Today I held a talk at the IDEA CETL Applied Ethics Research seminar at the University of Leeds. My talk was titled ‘Mapping people, not sheep: Why our planet’s well-being can look so different’ and focused on issues of mapping well-being in new ways. Continue reading

Mapping a (un)happy humanity: a new perspective on our planet’s well-being

Happiness and well-being found their way back into public debate in the UK with Prime Minister David Cameron wanting well-being to become a measure to steer policy. Maybe he was inspired by his recent trip to the G20 meeting in Asia: On the Asian continent lies the first country to have introduced Gross National Happiness as a measure for the country’s development – rather than economic growth, like we keep on doing. Happiness as the new economics is an appealing thought, but it is hard to imagine any major economy looking at happiness instead of money any time soon. And if so, how would the world look like? Happiness is hard to measure, and hence data is hard to get. One way to look at the well-being around the world provides the Happy Planet Index by the nef (new economics foundation).
Last year Sheffield University’s CWiPP is holding an exhibition at the ICOSS to mark the re-launch of the centre. My poster showing a new map of the Happy Planet Index was part of the exhibition:
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Mapping a (un)happy planet

This map is also featured in the News section of the Happy Planet Index homepage.
Update March 2011: I have given a talk explaining the methodological background and the thematic relevance of the map at the IDEA CETL Seminar Series (University of Leeds). The slides of this talk are available here:
Mapping people, not sheep: Why our planet’s well-being can look so different

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