Happy Planet Index

The Happy Planet Index (HPI) is an index of human well-being and environmental impact that was introduced by the New Economics Foundation (NEF) in July 2006. The index is weighted to give progressively higher scores to nations with lower ecological footprints.
Methodology
The index is designed to challenge well-established indices of countries’ development, such as Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and the Human Development Index (HDI), which are seen as not taking sustainability into account. In particular, GDP is seen as inappropriate, as the usual ultimate aim of most people is not to be rich, but to be happy and healthy. Furthermore, it is believed that the notion of sustainable development requires a measure of the environmental costs of pursuing those goals.
Out of the 178 countries surveyed in 2006, the best scoring countries were Vanuatu, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominica, and Panama, although Vanuatu is absent from all later indices. In 2009 Costa Rica was the best scoring country among the 143 analyzed, followed by the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Guatemala and Vietnam, with Tanzania, Botswana and Zimbabwe featuring at the bottom of the list.
For the 2012 ranking, 151 countries were compared, and the best scoring country for the second time in a row was Costa Rica, followed by Vietnam, Colombia, Belize and El Salvador. The lowest ranking countries in 2012 were Botswana, Chad and Qatar.

The HPI is based on general utilitarian principles — that most people want to live long and fulfilling lives, and the country which is doing the best is the one that allows its citizens to do so, whilst avoiding infringing on the opportunity of future people and people in other countries to do the same. In effect it operationalises the IUCN’s (World Conservation Union) call for a metric capable of measuring ‘the production of human well-being (not necessarily material goods) per unit of extraction of or imposition upon nature’.
Human well-being is operationalised as Happy Life Years. Extraction of or imposition upon nature is proxied for using the ecological footprint per capita, which attempts to estimate the amount of natural resources required to sustain a given country’s lifestyle. A country with a large per capita ecological footprint uses more than its fair share of resources, both by drawing resources from other countries, and also by causing permanent damage to the planet which will impact future generations.
As such, the HPI is not a measure of which are the happiest countries in the world. Countries with relatively high levels of life satisfaction, as measured in surveys, are found from the very top (Colombia in 6th place) to the very bottom (the USA in 114th place) of the rank order. The HPI is best conceived as a measure of the environmental efficiency of supporting well-being in a given country. Such efficiency could emerge in a country with a medium environmental impact (e.g. Costa Rica) and very high well-being, but it could also emerge in a country with only mediocre well-being, but very low environmental impact (e.g. Vietnam).
Each country’s HPI value is a function of its average subjective life satisfaction, life expectancy at birth, and ecological footprint per capita. The exact function is a little more complex, but conceptually it approximates multiplying life satisfaction and life expectancy, and dividing that by the ecological footprint. Most of the life satisfaction data is taken from the World Values Survey and World Database of Happiness, but some is drawn from other surveys, and some is estimated using statistical regression techniques.

Views
Much criticism of the index has been due to commentators falsely understanding it to be a measure of happiness, when it is in fact a measure of the ecological efficiency of supporting well-being.
Aside from that, criticism has focused on the following:
1. That the HPI completely ignores issues like political freedom, human rights and labor rights.
2. That the World Values Survey covers only a minority of the world’s nations and is only done every five years. As a result, much of the data for the index must come from other sources, or is estimated using regressions.
3. General suspicion of subjective measures of well-being.
4. That the Ecological Footprint is a controversial concept with many criticisms.
Nevertheless, the HPI and its components have been considered in political circles. The Ecological Footprint, championed by the WWF, is widely used by both local and national governments, as well as supranational organisations such as the European Commission. The HPI itself was recently cited in the British Conservative Party as a possible substitute for GDP. A recent review of progress indicators produced by the European Parliament, lists the following pros and cons to using the HPI as a measure of national progress:
Pros:
Considers the actual ‘ends’ of economic activity in the form of life satisfaction and longevity
Combines wellbeing and environmental aspects
Simple and easily understandable scheme for calculating the index
Comparability of results (‘EF’ and ‘life expectancy’ can be applied to different countries)
Data online available, although some data gaps remain
Mixture of ‘soft’ and ‘hard’ criteria; takes into account people’s well-being and resource use of countries
Cons:
‘Happiness’ or ‘life satisfaction’ are very subjective and personal: cultural influences and complex impact of policies on happiness
Confusion of name: index is not a measure of happiness but rather measure of environmental efficiency of supporting well-being in a given country

2012 ranking
Nine out of the ten top countries are located in the Caribbean Basin, despite high levels of poverty. The ranking is led by Costa Rica for the second time in a row, and its lead is due to its very high life expectancy which is second highest in the Americas, and higher than the U.S., experienced well-being higher than many richer nations and a per capita footprint one third the size of the U.S. Among the top 40 countries by overall HPI score, only four countries have a GDP per capita of over US$15,000. The highest ranking OECD country is Israel in 15th place, and the top Western European nation is Norway in 29th place, just behind New Zealand in 28th. Among the top five world’s biggest economies in terms of GDP, Japan has the highest ranking in 45th place, followed by Germany in 46th, France is placed 50th, China 60, and the U.S. is ranked 105, mainly due to its environmental footprint of 7.5, the highest of all countries rated for the 2012 index.

2012 Happy Planet Index
The columns: rank,country,HPI,life experience,life expectancy,ecological footprint.
1 Costa Rica 64.0 7.3 79.3 2.5
2 Vietnam 60.4 5.8 75.2 1.4
3 Colombia 59.8 6.4 73.7 1.8
4 Belize 59.3 6.5 76.1 2.1
5 El Salvador 58.9 6.7 72.2 2.0
6 Jamaica 58.5 6.2 73.1 1.7
7 Panama 57.8 7.3 76.1 3.0
8 Nicaragua 57.1 5.7 74.0 1.6
9 Venezuela 56.9 7.5 74.4 3.0
10 Guatemala 56.9 6.3 71.2 1.8
11 Bangladesh 56.3 5.0 68.9 0.7
12 Cuba 56.2 5.4 79.1 1.9
13 Honduras 56.0 5.9 73.1 1.7
14 Indonesia 55.5 5.5 69.4 1.1
15 Israel 55.2 7.4 81.6 4.0
16 Pakistan 54.1 5.3 65.4 0.8
17 Argentina 54.1 6.4 75.9 2.7
18 Albania 54.1 5.3 76.9 1.8
19 Chile 53.9 6.6 79.1 3.2
20 Thailand 53.5 6.2 74.1 2.4
21 Mexico 52.9 6.8 77.0 3.3
22 Brazil 52.9 6.8 75.2 2.9
23 Ecuador 52.5 5.8 75.6 2.4
24 Philippines 52.4 4.9 68.7 1.0
25 Pdru 52.4 5.6 74.0 2.0
26 Algeria 52.2 5.2 73.1 1.6
27 Jordan 51.7 5.7 73.4 2.1
28 New Zealand 51.6 7.2 80.7 4.3
29 Norway 51.4 7.6 81.1 4.8
30 Palestine 51.2 4.8 72.8 1.4
31 Guyana 51.2 6.0 69.9 2.1
32 India 50.9 5.0 65.4 0.9
33 Dominican Republic 50.7 4.7 73.4 1.4
34 Switzerland 50.3 7.5 82.3 5.0
35 Sri Lanka 49.4 4.2 74.9 1.2
36 Iraq 49.2 5.0 69.0 1.4
37 Laos 49.1 5.0 67.5 1.3
38 Kyrgyzstan 49.1 5.0 67.7 1.3
39 Tunisia 48.3 4.7 74.5 1.8
40 Moldova 48.0 5.6 69.3 2.1
41 United Kingdom 47.9 7.0 80.2 4.7
42 Morocco 47.9 4.4 72.2 1.3
43 Tajikistan 47.8 4.4 67.5 0.9
44 Turkey 47.6 5.5 74.0 2.6
45 Japan 47.5 6.1 83.4 4.2
46 Germany 47.2 6.7 80.4 4.6
47 Syria 47.1 4.1 75.9 1.5
48 Austria 47.1 7.3 80.9 5.3
49 Madagascar 46.8 4.6 66.7 1.2
50 France 46.5 6.8 81.5 4.9

2006 Happy Planet Index
Rank Country HPI
1 Vanuatu 68.21
2 Colombia 67.24
3 Costa Rica 66.00
4 Dominica 64.55
5 Panama 63.54
6 Cuba 61.86
7 Honduras 61.75
8 Guatemala 61.69
9 El Salvador 61.66
10 Saint Vincent and the Grenadines61.37
11 Saint Lucia 61.31
12 Vietnam 61.23
13 Bhutan 61.08
14 Samoa 60.98
15 Sri Lanka 60.31
16 Antigua and Barbuda 59.23
17 Philippines 59.17
18 Nicaragua 59.09
19 Kyrgyzstan 59.05
20 Solomon Islands 58.93
21 Tunisia 58.92
22 São Tomé and Príncipe 57.92
23 Indonesia 57.90
24 Tonga 57.90
25 Tajikistan 57.66
26 Venezuela 57.55
27 Dominican Republic 57.14
28 Guyana 56.65
29 Saint Kitts and Nevis 56.14
30 Seychelles 56.07
31 China 55.99
32 Thailand 55.39
33 Peru 55.14
34 Suriname 55.03
35 Yemen 55.00
36 Fiji 54.47
37 Morocco 54.43
38 Mexico 54.39
39 Maldives 53.52
40 Malta 53.26
41 Bangladesh 53.20
42 Comoros 52.92
43 Barbados 52.73
44 Malaysia 52.69
45 Palestinian Authority 52.64
46 Cape Verde 52.41
47 Chile 52.20
48 Timor-Leste 52.04
49 Argentina 51.96
50 Trinidad and Tobago 51.87
51 Belize 51.32
52 Paraguay 51.13
53 Jamaica 51.01
54 Nepal 49.95
55 Mauritius 49.65
56 Mongolia 49.59
57 Uruguay 49.31
58 Ecuador 49.29
59 Uzbekistan 49.22
60 Grenada 48.96
61 Austria 48.77
62 The Gambia 48.67
63 Brazil 48.59
64 Iceland 48.35
65 Switzerland 48.30
66 Italy 48.26
67 Iran 47.23
68 Ghana 46.98
69 Bolivia 46.17
70 Netherlands 46.00
71 Madagascar 45.99
72 Cyprus 45.99
73 Algeria 45.89
74 Luxembourg 45.62
75 Bahamas 44.90
76 Papua New Guinea 44.75
77 Myanmar 44.55
78 Belgium 44.04
79 Slovenia 44.03
80 Oman 43.94
81 Germany 43.83
82 Croatia 43.71
83 Lebanon 43.64
84 Taiwan 43.41
85 Haiti 43.34
86 Syria 43.23
87 Spain 43.04
88 Hong Kong 42.88
89 Saudi Arabia 42.65
90 India 42.46
91 Cambodia 42.15
92 Albania 42.13
93 Jordan 42.05
94 New Zealand 41.92
95 Japan 41.70
96 Republic of the Congo 41.59
97 Egypt 41.58
98 Turkey 41.40
99 Denmark 41.40
100 Brunei 41.16
101 Georgia 41.15
102 South Korea 41.11
103 Bosnia and Herzegovina 40.96
104 Senegal 40.81
105 Azerbaijan 40.69
106 Gabon 40.52
107 Libya 40.33
108 United Kingdom 40.29
109 Laos 40.26
110 Benin 40.10
111 Canada 39.76
112 Pakistan 39.40
113 Ireland 39.38
114 Poland 39.29
115 Norway 39.18
116 Macedonia 39.14
117 Israel 39.07
118 Namibia 38.41
119 Sweden 38.17
120 Romania 37.72
121 Hungary 37.64
122 Guinea 37.42
123 Finland 37.36
124 Mauritania 37.30
125 Kazakhstan 36.92
126 Togo 36.86
127 Kenya 36.70
128 Czech Republic 36.5
129 France 36.42
130 Armenia 36.15
131 Singapore 36.14
132 Slovakia 35.81
133 Greece 35.71
134 Tanzania 35.08
135 Guinea-Bissau 35.08
136 Portugal 34.83
137 Eritrea 34.49
138 Bahrain 34.35
139 Australia 34.06
140 Mali 33.68
141 Mozambique 33.01
142 Cameroon 32.76
143 Djibouti 32.72
144 Ethiopia 32.53
145 Bulgaria 31.59
146 Nigeria 31.14
147 Moldova 31.12
148 Burkina Faso 30.08
149 Lithuania 29.29
150 United States 28.83
151 Côte d’Ivoire 28.80
152 Rwanda 28.35
153 Sierra Leone 28.24
154 United Arab Emirates 28.20
155 Angola 27.88
156 South Africa 27.80
157 Sudan 27.74
158 Uganda 27.68
159 Kuwait 27.67
160 Latvia 27.27
161 Niger 26.80
162 Malawi 26.66
163 Zambia 25.91
164 Central African Republic25.90
165 Belarus 25.78
166 Qatar 25.50
167 Botswana 25.42
168 Chad 25.37
169 Turkmenistan 23.96
170 Equatorial Guinea 23.77
171 Lesotho 23.05
172 Russia 22.76
173 Estonia 22.68
174 Ukraine 22.21
175 Democratic Republic of the Congo20.69
176 Burundi 19.02
177 Swaziland 18.38
178 Zimbabwe 16.6

2009
Rank Country HPI
1 Costa Rica 76.1
2 Dominican Republic 71.8
3 Jamaica 70.1
4 Guatemala 68.4
5 Vietnam 66.5
6 Colombia 66.1
7 Cuba 65.7
8 El Salvador 61.5
9 Brazil 61.0
10 Honduras 61.0
11 Nicaragua 60.5
12 Egypt 60.3
13 Saudi Arabia 59.7
14 Philippines 59.0
15 Argentina 59.0
16 Indonesia 58.9
17 Bhutan 58.5
18 Panama 57.4
19 Laos 57.3
20 China 57.1
21 Morocco 56.8
22 Sri Lanka 56.5
23 Mexico 55.6
24 Pakistan 55.6
25 Ecuador 55.5
26 Jordan 54.6
27 Belize 54.5
28 Peru 54.4
29 Tunisia 54.3
30 Trinidad and Tobago 54.2
31 Bangladesh 54.1
32 Moldova 54.1
33 Malaysia 54.0
34 Tajikistan 53.5
35 India 53.0
36 Venezuela 52.5
37 Nepal 51.9
38 Syria 51.3
39 Burma 51.2
40 Algeria 51.2
41 Thailand 50.9
42 Haiti 50.8
43 Netherlands 50.6
44 Malta 50.4
45 Uzbekistan 50.1
46 Chile 49.7
47 Bolivia 49.3
48 Armenia 48.3
49 Singapore 48.2
50 Yemen 48.1
51 Germany 48.1
52 Switzerland 48.1
53 Sweden 48.0
54 Albania 47.9
55 Paraguay 47.8
56 Palestinian Authority 47.7
57 Austria 47.7
58 Serbia 47.6
59 Finland 47.2
60 Croatia 47.2
61 Kyrgyzstan 47.1
62 Cyprus 46.2
63 Guyana 45.6
64 Belgium 45.4
65 Bosnia and Herzegovina 45.0
66 Slovenia 44.5
67 Israel 44.5
68 South Korea 44.4
69 Italy 44.0
70 Romania 43.9
71 France 43.9
72 Georgia 43.6
73 Slovakia 43.5
74 United Kingdom 43.3
75 Japan 43.3
76 Spain 43.2
77 Poland 42.8
78 Ireland 42.6
79 Iraq 42.6
80 Cambodia 42.3
81 Iran 42.1
82 Bulgaria 42.0
83 Turkey 41.7
84 Hong Kong 41.6
85 Azerbaijan 41.2
86 Lithuania 40.9
87 Djibouti 40.4
88 Norway 40.4
89 Canada 39.4
90 Hungary 38.9
91 Kazakhstan 38.5
92 Czech Republic 38.3
93 Mauritania 38.2
94 Iceland 38.1
95 Ukraine 38.1
96 Senegal 38.0
97 Greece 37.6
98 Portugal 37.5
99 Uruguay 37.2
100 Ghana 37.1
101 Latvia 36.7
102 Australia 36.5
103 New Zealand 36.2
104 Belarus 35.7
105 Denmark 35.5
106 Mongolia 35.0
107 Malawi 34.5
108 Russia 34.5
109 Chad 34.3
110 Lebanon 33.6
111 Macedonia 32.7
112 Republic of the Congo 32.4
113 Madagascar 31.5
114 United States 30.7
115 Nigeria 30.3
116 Guinea 30.3
117 Uganda 30.2
118 South Africa 29.7
119 Rwanda 29.6
120 Democratic Republic of the Congo29.0
121 Sudan 28.5
122 Luxembourg 28.5
123 United Arab Emirates 28.2
124 Ethiopia 28.1
125 Kenya 27.8
126 Cameroon 27.2
127 Zambia 27.2
128 Kuwait 27.0
129 Niger 26.9
130 Angola 26.8
131 Estonia 26.4
132 Mali 25.8
133 Mozambique 24.6
134 Benin 24.6
135 Togo 23.3
136 Sierra Leone 23.1
137 Central African Republic22.9
138 Burkina Faso 22.4
139 Burundi 21.8
140 Namibia 21.1
141 Botswana 20.9
142 Tanzania 17.8
143 Zimbabwe 16.6

About admin

I would like to think of myself as a full time traveler. I have been retired since 2006 and in that time have traveled every winter for four to seven months. The months that I am “home”, are often also spent on the road, hiking or kayaking.
I hope to present a website that describes my travel along with my hiking and sea kayaking experiences.

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