The World Bank facilitates a happiness measurement exchange

August 19, 2014

Experts from five countries met in the framework of south-south cooperation

La Paz, August 19, 2014– Experts and top officials from Bhutan, Ecuador, Mexico, Venezuela and Bolivia met to inform on the progress their countries have made with respect to measuring the population’s well-being.

Bolivian Chancellor David Choquehuanca said, “We have to go back to being ourselves, to our cultures. Another world is possible; that is what we are working toward. Ancestral knowledge is science. “Living Well” is contrary to the dictatorship of having and consuming.”

A keynote speaker at the international event was Bhutan Study Center President Dasho Karma Ura, who holds a master’s degree in philosophy with a minor in economics. He is the driving force behind the process to consolidate the Gross National Happiness index of his country.

 “We defined the concept of happiness based on a census and discussions with different sectors of the population. That is how we learned that the happiest Bhutanese are the healthiest. They are respectful of the culture of citizenship and are the most creative in a social sense because they do not generate conflict. They respect the environment to avoid becoming a victim of consumerism,” said Karma Ura. “Based on the surveys, we developed indicators consistent with our values. Good indicators foster a common vision, and help identify strengths, weaknesses and even changes in behavior.”

The countries use different names for the processes to develop well-being indices, which reflect their idiosyncrasies and life philosophies. The Bhutan Gross National Happiness index is a historical reference to alternative visions. Mexico has also generated a multi-dimensional well-being indicator. Ecuador developed the philosophical concept of “Good living,” while Bolivia created “Living Well.” Venezuela and other countries are preparing their own proposals.

The world wants more but not to be more,” said Freddy Elhers, Secretary of Good Living of Ecuador. Harmony, equality, equity and solidarity are the pillars of our National Values Plan.”

Bolivia has proposed – even at the constitutional level – the concept of Living Well, which seeks to reflect the multiple dimensions of well-being of the Bolivian people.

According to Faris Hadad-Zervos, World Bank Representative in Bolivia: “The people and government have long noted that it is not enough to measure well-being only by per capita GDP or other income or consumption indicators. The development and measurement of Living Well will be an important guide for defining public policies, and of course for the work of cooperation agencies in Bolivia.”

Through a survey and other statistical tools, the government is fine-tuning the parameters to enable the measurement of Bolivians’ level of happiness and challenges in the context of Living Well (Sumaj q’amaña). Five ministers are involved in developing this ambitious, complex process. The National Statistics Institute will design a methodology for collecting the information.

Last Updated: Aug 19, 2014

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