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Legarda Seeks World’s Top Economist’s Help to Develop a Happiness Index in PHL

May 6, 2012

SENATOR LOREN LEGARDA HAS SOUGHT THE ADVICE AND SUPPORT OF DR. JEFFREY SACHS, A WORLD-RENOWNED ECONOMIST, IN DEVELOPING NEW METRICS THAT WOULD MEASURE THE GENERAL WELL-BEING OF FILIPINOS.
In a meeting with Dr. Sachs at the sidelines of the 45th Annual Meeting of the Asian Development Bank in Manila, Legarda discussed with the Director of The Earth Institute at Columbia University the development of a happiness index in the Philippines, an indicator that will seriously establish the idea of environmental sustainability, biodiversity conservation, cultural diversity and people’s well-being in the country’s development goals.
“Dr. Sachs supported the idea of adopting the Gross National Happiness (GNH) concept here in the Philippines like it is being done in the Royal Kingdom of Bhutan. While there are only one million people in Bhutan and we are 94 million here, he said that incorporating the GNH concept in the Philippines’ development agenda would mean 94 million happy people in the country,” Legarda stressed.
“I am glad that Dr. Sachs supported my idea of replicating the GNH in the country, which according to him, is a big job that will give new insights on welfare for the Philippines,” the Senator added.
She explained that the GNH measures progress by giving equal importance to sustainable and equitable socio-economic development, environmental conservation, promotion and preservation of cultural values, and good governance.
The Senator noted that the recently-released World Happiness Report by The Earth Institute showed that the Philippines is in the middle rank with a score of five (5), along with India and Bangladesh, on a 0-to-10 scale.
Dr. Sachs explained to Legarda that while top-rated countries are generally the wealthier countries, middle-income countries such as Costa Rica, do well in life satisfaction measures.
Legarda pointed out that “we have to go beyond the traditional economic yardsticks that only emphasize economic progress. Statistics such as gross domestic product (GDP) and gross national product (GNP), which only indicate the value of goods and services turned out by our market economy, are not designed to measure the quality of life of Filipinos. Have we attempted to ask Filipinos if they are happy and how do they feel about their lives? ”
“It is alarming that despite the anti-poverty programs of the government, about eleven million families rated themselves suffering in poverty, a two million-surge from year ago level. It is about time that we broaden the instruments that are being used to assess well-being and be able to effectively address issues, such as weak rural livelihoods and vulnerability of communities to environmental degradation and disasters, that ultimately affect poverty and hunger,” Legarda concluded.