Daily Chart: The World In Happiness

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Via Catherine Rampell, I see the new economics foundation (hip lowercase in the original) has released its second Happy Planet Index. The index attempts to rank the world on the basis of how efficiently countries produce happy lives -- that is, lifespan and level of satisfaction divided by rate of resource consumption. Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic and Jamaica come out on top.

Whether this is a meaningful measure is an open question. Measuring happiness raises philosophical and practical questions that are perhaps best handled with a dorm room and a bong, not a think tank. Nonetheless, I sympathize with the NEF"s -- excuse me, the nef's -- impulse. Gross Domestic Product is in many ways an unsatisfying measure of national wellbeing, and it seems intuitively true to me that a very high level of consumption is neither a necessary nor a sufficient condition for happiness (whatever it is).

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Derek Thompson is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where he writes about economics, labor markets, and the entertainment business.

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