"UK population's happiness is on the up," trumpeted a headline in The Guardian. What the headline was referring to are the results of a survey conducted by the Office for National Statistics meant to measure Britain's national well-being. The program was announced in 2010 by David Cameron, with the first report coming in 2012 and the second this past week. While the idea of measuring a country's well-being by something other than just its GDP is certainly important and can lead to a really worthwhile conversation, the question is how the alternative index is compiled and how it correlates with other data on health and well-being. I'm solidly behind any effort to show that we're more than just our marginal contribution to our bank account, the bottom line of our employer or the gross national product of our country. But it's important to look at the whole picture.
It would be really good if instead of just creating a a set of statistical indicators, that these indicators were used actively and progressively, to decouple our well being from GDP, accretion of wealth (at least the material bit) and reliance on fossil fuels. If these indicators provided the basis for measuring progress against these objectives as part of a cyclical programme for improvement, then this could have real and practical benefits.