Yesterday the New Economics Foundation released their latest Happy Planet Index results. The index compares countries by measuring the wellbeing of citizens, and comparing it to environmental performance. What you get is an efficiency measure – a kind of ‘miles per gallon’ as creator Nic Marks puts it in the video below.
Some countries deliver good lives for people, but use vast quantities of resources and energy to do it. Others use few resources, but people are unhappy and unhealthy. The countries doing best are those that get the most out of their resources, that achieve high wellbeing with low consumption. Here’s a snapshot of the results, and you can explore them in detail here:
As you can see, the HPI has a different perspective on which countries are successful and which ones are failing. Both underdeveloped and overdeveloped countries come out badly. As a continent, South America seems to be the most balanced, with Costa Rica topping the index. Costa Rica has a higher life expectancy than the US, but each person only uses a third of the resources, and the country has 99% renewable energy.
I like the HPI. I think it’s a very useful way of thinking about progress and what success for a country really means, especially when you compare it to the blunt instrument of GDP. I might come back to it next week.