How to measure happiness

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How to measure happiness

Active discussions are now taking place about the possibility of introducing a new indicator to measure social progress.

And what better venue to talk about this issue than the third Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development World Forum, which started in Busan on Tuesday. The forum is an ideal place to seek new options to comprehensively assess happiness beyond a country’s mere economic accomplishments as measured by gross domestic product. Roughly 2,000 leaders and professionals from around the world have gathered at the forum to seek new paradigms to measure progress.

These efforts stem from the increasing view that GDP alone can’t measure the accomplishments of a nation and the satisfaction levels of people in an ever-changing world.

The question of how to measure progress can be traced back to the fundamental question facing mankind: For what do we progress?

When measuring progress through GDP, we value economic growth first and foremost. But the realization that economic development and expansion alone don’t make people happy has led to the notion that the goal of development should be about happiness, not numbers and growth. As a result of this change in thinking, the standard with which development is measured must change, too. And that is exactly why we need a new index. With a new index, society’s view on success will also shift.

By the same token, if companies were measured by the quality of their products or by their social reputation instead of by market share, then their management goals would also have to be modified. As such, introducing a new indicator for development - as proposed at the OECD forum - should help countries adjust their policy goals from “quantitative growth” to “qualitative growth.”

We think it’s quite significant that a forum focused on discussing a shift in development paradigms is being held in Korea.

We’re also the first Asian country to host the event. The role of Korea, which plays host to next year’s G-20 summit, in bridging developed and emerging countries is particularly important, especially when you take into account a possible change in global hierarchy if a new index is adopted. Taking a leadership role in developing a new index would also help upgrade our own, outdated statistical ranking. More importantly, however, the government should use this forum as an opportunity to adjust its development goals to raise people’s quality of life.
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