Statisticians Turn To Happiness For Advice

Grasping for new ways to define progress in a society, statisticians are increasingly turning to outside-the-box barometers, like Gross National Happiness, to measure a country's true well-being.

Economics progress, long one of the few or only indicators western countires have used to gauge their advancement at the national or the indiivdual level, is being questioned in the wake of the financial crisis. Deep moral and ethical hazards have been exposed that run to the heart of what drives people to make money. As the world economy sits in intensive care, the debate over just how much progress money-making creates has been brought into question.

One sign of high-level change in economic thinking can be seen in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development's Global Project on Measuring the Progress of Societies which uses economic, social and environmental critieria to re-assess what "progress" means across the globe.

France has a Commission on the Measurement of Economic Performance and Social Progress, a body commissioned by Sarkovy and chaired by uber-economist Joseph Stiglitz to measure well-being in France's increasingly fractious society.

Obama is expected to follow with a commission of his own, but in the meantime there is The State of the USA which Big Think's David Walker endorsed saying it produced "scientifically grounded, and widely shared quality information on where we are and where we are going."

If big thinkers have any suggestions for new indicators we may use to measure ourselves, we encourage you to propose and debate them here.

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