The UK government is poised to start measuring people’s psychological and environmental wellbeing, bidding to be among the first countries to officially monitor happiness – writes Allegra Stratton on the Guardian.
Despite “nervousness” in Downing Street at the prospect of testing the national mood amid deep cuts and last week’s riot in Westminster, the Office of National Statistics will shortly be asked to produce measures to implement David Cameron’s long-stated ambition of gauging “general wellbeing”.
Countries such as France and Canada are looking at similar initiatives as governments around the world come under pressure to put less store on conventional economic measures of prosperity such as gross domestic product.
British officials say there is still hesitation in some parts of Whitehall over going ahead with the programme during such difficult economic times, but Cameron is said to want to place the eventual results at the heart of future government policy-making.
On 25 November, the government will ask the independent national statistician Jil Matheson to devise questions to add to the existing household survey by as early as next spring.
It will be up to Matheson to choose the questions but the government’s aim is for respondents to be regularly polled on their subjective wellbeing, which includes a gauge of happiness, and also a more objective sense of how well they are achieving their “life goals”.
The new data will be placed alongside existing measures to create a bundle of indications about our quality of life.
Full article on http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2010/nov/14/happiness-index-britain-national-mood