How about counting smiles?
Instead of crunching numbers, how about counting smiles?
So suggested Sen. Loren Legarda, who has revived her call for the government to include the quality of life in measuring the country’s growth instead of just relying on the output-based gross domestic product (GDP) and gross national product (GNP).
“We are accustomed to measuring our growth and development through the GDP and the GNP. But when we measure this by percentage of growth, do we actually measure our quality of life? More particularly the quality of the air we breathe and its impact on the health of our people?” Legarda said in an interview with the Inquirer.
The senator said the Philippines should consider using the Gross National Happiness (GNH) concept used by the Bhutan government to measure the country’s progress based not only on productivity figures, but also on the “non-economic aspects of well-being.”
Through Senate Resolution No. 15, Legarda proposed four other factors that should be used to measure quality of life: good governance, equitable socioeconomic development, cultural preservation and environmental sustainability.
Legarda said the governments of Japan, France and the United Kingdom have already considered developing a happiness index in their respective countries, following the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s launch of this concept in 2011.
In the same year, the United Nations urged member states to “pursue elaboration of additional measures that better capture the importance of the pursuit of happiness and well-being in development, with a view to guiding their public policies.”
The Philippines ranked 82nd in the 2016 World Happiness Report of the UN, a 157-nation survey that considers six factors in measuring the quality of life: “GDP per capita, healthy years of life expectancy, social support, trust (as measured by a perceived absence of corruption in government and business), perceived freedom to make life decisions, and generosity.”
The survey found developed nations in the top 10, with Denmark at the top spot, followed by Switzerland, Iceland, Norway, Finland, Canada, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Australia and Sweden.
The Philippines trailed several other developing nations in Southeast Asia, but curiously placed two places above Bhutan, where the GNH concept originated.
Legarda said that “improving quality of life goes beyond economic growth,” as she noted the “absence of measures that will reflect the happiness and well-being of Filipinos.”
“Do we actually measure or address the water quality of our rivers and oceans and how dirty they are? That’s not factored in, and how it brings about malaria, cholera, dengue (and the) Zika (virus),” she said.
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