In a country recognised for its beautiful beaches and samba spirit long before it began to emerge as an economic powerhouse, elected officials are studying a happiness bill.

As reported by Robin Yapp on

The bill is widely expected to be approved by the Senate, which reconvened this week after Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff succeeded Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva on New Year’s Day.

According to Mauro Motoryn, director of the Happier Movement, a non-governmental organisation backing the legislation, the bill has a serious purpose in a country still marked by a gaping divide between rich and poor.

“Happiness isn’t a game, people confuse it with something that is superfluous and it isn’t,” he said. “We need quality health care, which we don’t have. We need quality education, which we don’t have.”

If approved by the Senate, the bill will then go to the lower house.

The idea of a “gross national happiness” index to rival gross domestic product as a way to measure a country’s wellbeing was pioneered in the 1970s by the Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan.

The concept is now taken increasingly seriously in many parts of the world.

Last November the British government announced plans to measure wellbeing as well as GDP, just over a year after Nicolas Sarkozy made a similar pledge in France.

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