Mon, Mar 26, 2018 - Page 6 News List

Government should focus on social happiness

By Tu Jenn-hwa 杜震華

Quite a few nations have happiness scores similar to Taiwan’s, and the nation’s “happiness” dropped last year compared with 2016. Some nations are performing better than the report suggests and their low rankings should be attributed to the progress made not being large enough to compensate for the average regression in previous years.

Singapore dropped from 26th place last year to 34th place, while Thailand dropped from 32th to 46th place.

The report identifies GDP per capita adjusted for purchasing power parity, average life expectancy, social support, social freedom, generosity and confidence in the government measured as absence of corruption as the six key variables contributing to a nation’s happiness.

The greatest difference between these variables and earlier measurements is that they show that in addition to income, social support networks are crucial to happiness.

In addition, the level of freedom when making choices in life, such as about marriage or occupation, also reflects the social respect individuals enjoy, which is another important factor in determining happiness.

Social support, social freedom, generosity — these are three new parameters that differ from those used in previous measurements of happiness, and they help explain the higher rankings of many less-developed Latin American nations, such as Mexico, which placed 24th, Costa Rica at 13th, Chile at 25th and Panama at 27th place.

If the government considers helping people to become happier in terms of social well-being its raison d’etre, then its policymaking should be guided by the six key variables identified by the UN as essential contributing factors to a nation’s happiness.

Tu Jenn-hwa is a professor in Chinese Culture University’s English Program of Global Business.

Translated by Chang Ho-ming

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