The UN Happiness Index becomes a benchmark, symbolizing the breakthrough of alternative GDP indicators

The World Happiness Report (WHR), prepared by the UN, measures happiness using six variables: income, freedom, trust in government, healthy life expectancy, social support and generosity. It compiles a ranking of 150 countries dominated by Finland, Denmark, Iceland, Switzerland, the Netherlands and then France in 20th position. After two years of pandemic, the indicator is more relevant than ever.

GDP must be placed in perspective and supplemented by other indices that take particular account of health, the carbon footprint or well-being.“, estimates Dominique Méda, director of the Interdisciplinary Institute of Social Sciences (Iris), which has long campaigned for a replacement of this indicator.International institutions are working on reference indicators“, adds the author of What is Wealth? (Flammarion). The World Happiness Report, prepared at the request of the United Nations, indeed fills this gap.

As in the previous five years, Finland tops the list with a score of 7.82 out of 10. The country of 5.5 million inhabitants is followed by Denmark, Iceland, Switzerland and the Netherlands. As for France, it gains a place and makes its entry into the 20 happiest countries in the world. France thus achieved its best position since the start of the study, behind Belgium (19th), the Czech Republic (18th), the United Kingdom (17th), the United States (16th) or Canada (15th).

Multiplication of references to the concepts of happiness and well-being

The survey, which marks its tenth anniversary this year, is based on subjective data, with Gallup polls asking residents about their own level of happiness, as well as objective indicators such as GDP and estimates of healthy life expectancy. individual freedom and corruption. Designed to support states in developing their government policies, this indicator has never seemed more essential after two years of the virus. †The recent pandemic has likely had a strong impact on popular beliefs about what is most important to life, and even how society can promote collective improvements in well-being.,” note the authors of the World Happiness Report, noting a multitude of references to the concepts of happiness and well-being in academic and political fields.

Recently, more than half of the new indicators contain data related to well-being” confirms Chris Barrington-Leigh, professor at the Institute for Health and Social Policy and at the Bieler School of Environment. As a result, researchers and governments are innovating by taking indicators of well-being into account.”In Canada, this is a year of significant efforts to measure well-being and develop policy.Chris Barrington-Leigh emphasizes.

Top countries have handled the pandemic better

Finland has shown the way. Since 2019, the UN ranking winner chooses to measure well-being and manage his government policies accordingly. New Zealand (10th in the World Happiness Report) for its part voted in 2019 for a welfare budget, a world first. This budget includes an increase in government spending on mental health, allowances for indigenous peoples and for the fight against child poverty and domestic violence. †We said we wanted to be a government that does things differently, and with this budget, that’s exactly what we’ve done. We have laid the groundwork not only for a “wellness budget” but also for a different approach to government decision-making as a whole.said Jacinda Ardern, the head of the government.

These experiences demonstrate the relevance “to build alternative indicators for GDP and its growthdefends Eloi Laurent, professor at Sciences-po and Stanford.It’s unclear whether the world is happier now, but the world is more focused on happiness and well-being than it was ten years ago, and that in itself gives us hope that we can turn this better understanding into real happiness in the world‘ said Jeffrey Sachs.

Mathilde Golla @Mathgolla

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