Index shows Taiwanese are moderately happy

By Amy Su  /  Staff reporter

Sat, Aug 31, 2013 - Page 1

People in Taiwan enjoy a “moderate level” of happiness compared with their peers in nations in the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), according to the national happiness index released by the Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics (DGBAS) yesterday.

The national happiness index — compiled from a total of 24 indicators in 11 categories and based on the OECD’s Better Life Index — stood at 6.64 points this year, the DGBAS said.

Taiwan ranks 19th among the countries assessed in the two indexes.

“Taiwan’s level of happiness is in the middle,” DGBAS Minister Shih Su-mei (石素梅) told a press conference.

Australia is the OECD’s happiest nation with an index reading of 7.95 points, followed by Sweden and Canada, the report showed.

Among the Asian nations surveyed, Taiwan ranked the highest, ahead of Japan and South Korea, which were rated 27th and 28th respectively.

Among the 11 categories, Taiwan was ranked third for safety, which the DGBAS attributed to relatively few violent crimes, the report said.

In addition, Taiwan ranked highly in the categories related to living conditions, housing, and income and jobs, placing ninth, fourth and 10th respectively, the report said.

However, the nation’s environment ranking stayed at 35th, and DGBAS said that was a reflection of the impact of the large number of motorcycles and industrial activity.

Shih said the results showed Taiwan’s material living conditions are better than its quality of life.

Notably, the category of life satisfaction in Taiwan was ranked 25th, the DGBAS said, mentioning the results of a Gallup World Poll last year, when respondents in Taiwan gave themselves 6.1 points out of 10 points when measuring their living conditions.

The DGBAS said the risk of cultural bias remains when comparing subjective life satisfaction across different nations, with people in eastern Asian countries often avoiding extreme answers.

The report came after President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) instructed the DGBAS to prepare a national happiness index last year to gauge the nation’s living conditions.

The DGBAS said it would release the happiness index annually.