The first “World Happiness Report” has been released at the UN High Level Meeting on Happiness in early April (Read more about the meeting here). The report, published by the Earth Institute and co-edited by the institute’s director, Jeffrey Sachs, reflects on the current state of happiness around the world and on the possible approaches to systematic measurements of happiness of a person as well as a whole nation.
The authors underline that there has been a shift from seeing “happiness” as far too subjective and vague to be used as a criterium for government policy to being seriously discussed at government meetings and beyond. This is due to the fact that the research into happiness has shown that, “even though indeed a subjective experience, happiness can be objectively measured, assessed, correlated with observable brain functions, and related to the characteristics of an individual and the society.”
The report also presents three happiness case studies:
- the Bhutanese Gross National Happiness measure
- Measuring subjective well-being in the UK; and
- The current development of OECD Guidelines on the Measurement of Subjective Well-being to be released towards the end of 2012.
The authors of the report really see happiness coming on the center stage and suggest four steps to improve policy-making in this area: 1. measure happiness, 2. explain happiness, 3. put happiness at the center of analysis, and 4. translate well-being research into design and delivery of services.