Archive for July 5th, 2009

According to the Happy Planet Index (HPI), which is calculated by life expectancy, life satisfaction, and ecological footprint, Pakistan ranks number 24 in the world. Not bad for a country recently included in Foreign Policy’s 2009 Failed States Index.

According to New Economic Foundation, the organization that conducted this study, “The HPI is an innovative measure that shows the ecological efficiency with which human well-being is delivered around the world. It is the first ever index to combine environmental impact with well-being to measure the environmental efficiency with which country by country, people live long and happy lives.” However, despite media headlines blaring, “Costa Rica: World’s Happiest Place,” the Index doesn’t reveal whether countries are “happy.” In fact, the nations that top the index aren’t the happiest in the world, but are countries that show that “achieving, long, happy lives without over-stretching the planet’s resources is possible.”

Ultimately, the HPI is meant to show that around the world, “high levels of resource consumption do not reliably produce high levels of well-being, and that it is possible to produce high well-being without excessive consumption of the Earth’s resources.” The UK’s Telegraph noted,Β  “Economists said the richer countries came lower in the ranking because of the high carbon footprint of the population, measured by looking at how much of the world’s resources people consume per capita.” The news agency added, “In the UK, the low ranking [#74] was largely due to social problems or what has been labeled “broken Britain” and the high carbon footprint of most of the population. If everyone in the world wanted to live as people do in the UK, it would require the resources of more than three earths.” The United States also came in quite low on the rankings, at 114.

The last time the HPI was revealed, in July 2006, Pakistan actually ranked at 112. Based on the previous data, it looks like this can be mainly attributed to life satisfaction [based on surveys] being extremely low [4.3 versus 5.6 today – Costa Rica, to give you a good comparison has a high life satisfaction of 8.0]. The change, coupled with higher life expectancy, means we now rank in the top 25 of the world. Something interesting albeit questionable to celebrate, but definitely better than being called a failed state. What do you think?

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