Social Indicators Research

, Volume 85, Issue 3, pp 425–446 | Cite as

Environmentally Responsible Happy Nation Index: Towards an Internationally Acceptable National Success Indicator

  • Yew-Kwang NgEmail author


Amidst increasing attention to happiness studies by economists, the New Economics Foundation launched in July 2006 the Happy Planet Index (Marks et al. 2006). This is the ratio of the average happy life years (HLY) to the per capita ecological footprint of the country concerned. HLY is in turn the product of the average happiness (or life satisfaction) index and the life expectancy index. Some essential revisions to this index are proposed to reach an internationally acceptable national success indicator that aims positively at long and happy lives but negatively at the external costs of environmental disruption. Hopefully, this ‘environmentally responsible happy nation index’ will lead to some re-orientation of both the market and national governments towards something more fundamentally valuable.


Happiness Life satisfaction Subjective well-being National success indicators Green GDP Environmental costs Happy life years Happy planet index 



The author has benefited from the comments made after the speech, especially from the lengthy discussion with James Mirrlees. The author is also grateful to Lok-sang Ho, Murray Kemp, Andrew Oswald, Bernard van Praag for commenting on the first draft, and to Cora Ng for assistance in the calculation of figures reported in Tables 1 and 2. The author also wishes to thank the referee of this paper for helpful comments.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EconomicsMonash UniversityClaytonAustralia

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