Happy Planet Index
The Happy Planet Index (HPI) is an innovative index able to combine environmental impact with well-being to measure the environmental efficiency with which country by country, people live long and happy lives. There have been two editions of the Happy Planet Index, the first was published in July 2006, the second (2.0) in May 2009.
The HPI is best conceived as a measure of the environmental efficiency of supporting well-being in a given country. It shows that there doesn’t exist a reliable connection between increasing levels of resource consumption and high levels of well-being but that it is possible to produce high well-being without excessive consumption of the Earth’s resources. It doesn’t reveal the ‘happiest’ country in the world, but it explains the relative efficiency with which nations can convert the planet’s natural resources, contributing to long and happy lives for their citizens.
Such efficiency could be present in a country with a medium environmental impact and a very high level of well-being, but it could also exist in a country with only mediocre levels of well-being yet very low environmental impact.
Nic Marks talks about HPI at TEDGlobal 2010
2012 Happy Planet Index
The 2012 HPI reveals that this is largely still an unhappy planet – with both high- and low-income countries facing many challenges on their way to meeting this same overall goal. But it also demonstrates that good lives do not have to cost the Earth – that the countries where well-being is highest are not always the ones that have the biggest environmental impact. Read more about the findings: The Happy Planet Index - 2012 Report
The 2012 Happy Planet Index launched! Read the blog.
Happy Planet Index 2.0 rankings (2009 report)
How to measure the HPI
The global HPI can be described through three measures: the life satisfaction, the life expectancy and ecological footprint.
Measures of life satisfaction and life expectancy are two important measures that highlight the essential issue of how we establish whether our state of well-being will affect that of others around the world to secure their own, and whether any of us will be able to achieve this in the future. These measures do not however, analyse the means which they do this, or the inputs required.
The ecological footprint of an individual is a measure of the amount of land required to provide for all their resource requirements plus the amount of vegetated land required to absorb all their CO2 emissions and the CO2 emissions embodied in the products they consume. This approach estimates the total amount of productive hectares available on the planet. Dividing this by the world’s total population, we can calculate a global per capita figure on the basis that everyone is entitled to the same amount of the planet’s natural resources.
Using these components, the HPI is a function of its average subjective life satisfaction, life expectancy at birth, and ecological footprint per capita or better, it represents the efficiency with which countries convert the earth’s finite resources into well-being experienced by their citizens.
HPI in figures
HPI by sub-region
HPI overtime (OECD)
HLY, HPI and EF over time (OECD)
- ↑ Marks, N., Abdallah, S., Simms, A., & Thompson, S. (2006). The Unhappy Planet Index. London, UK: The New Economics Foundation.
The Happy Planet Index 2.0 (2009) - report
The Happy Planet Index (2006) - report
- the new economics foundation
- The Happy Planet Index - 2012 Report
- Composite Indicators