Switzerland topped the Economist’s “where–to-be-born” index for 2013, followed by rich economies Australia, Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Singapore. Does living in a place with high living standards also make you happy?
Over recent years there has been much debate about “happiness” indexes as a way of gauging a society’s prosperity and wellbeing. Since 1971, Bhutan has rejected gross domestic product (GDP) as the only way to measure progress. In its place, it has championed a new approach to development, which measures prosperity through formal principles of gross national happiness and the spiritual, physical, social and environmental health of its citizens and natural environment. This year the United Nations presented a World Happiness Report from responses compiled from 156 different countries. And the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has relaunched a Better Life Index. Can we really measure our wellbeing? Can you buy happiness? What other influences are there?