Society has been developing ever since the dawn of civilisation. We’ve made terrific progress in many different fields including agriculture, healthcare and technology. Although these developments have improved our lives significantly, it also has caused many problems and difficulties we face in the world today. Just think about the massive amount of pollution our way of living is having on our ecosystems. Our modern-day society which is largely based on consumption has caused massive problems which are threating our very own existence. There isn’t the need to go into detail about all the causes and consequences of our actions. That is pretty clear in my opinion. What we do need to (urgently) change is the way we define and measure progress.
What does progress mean to us?
Well, the common notion of progress is often related to economic growth (GDP) and technological advances (to some extent).
Although GDP measures the total amount of spending by citizens, companies and government in an economy, it does not take important things into account;
- The health and well-being of a society
- The (extra) pollution caused by economic growth
- Happiness and social cohesion
So, if GDP does not take these important issues into account, what should we do instead?
Well, people from the New Economics Foundation have come up with a better alternative.
It’s called: the Happy planet index
It measures the ecological efficiency with which we are achieving good lives
The numerator in the equation (happy life years) is a composite of life expectancy and a life satisfaction obtained from surveys.
What is the difference between GDP and HPI?
GDP sums up the money exchanged in market transactions. HPI gauges how well we transform the limited resources available to us into long and happy lives.
Although we’ve made terrific progress in many different fields including agriculture, healthcare and technology, it has caused many environmental/global problems. As GDP does not take the health and well-being of a society into account, it fails to measure the impact a (growing) economy has on the environment. Therefore, an alternative and better way to measure progress is to use the Happy Planet Index which measures the well-being and ecological footprint a society has on the environment.