Measuring Happiness

by Cindie Unger

Institution: Roskilde University
Year: 2015
Keywords: Happiness Research; Neoliberalism
Record ID: 1119666
Full text PDF: http://rudar.ruc.dk/handle/1800/20829


The project at hand aims at outlining if and how happiness measurements can constitute an alternative to the neoliberal measurements of prosperity dominating today. For this purpose, four cases, namely the UN 2013 World Happiness Report and the OECD 2013 Guidelines on measuring subjective well-being as one entity, the Happy Planet Index 2012 from the New Economics Foundation and the report on the Bhutanese Gross National Happiness measurements (2012), have been selected. These perspectives, widened in scope by three expert interviews from the respective fields, have been comparatively analyzed within the methodological framework of Fairclough’s (2013) Critical Discourse Analysis. The knowledge gained suggests that the case of the UN/OECD stays rather in line with neoliberal ideals of individualism and international competition, even though leaving room for voices critical of particularly these ideals. The Happy Planet Index also applies measurements oriented towards this comparability, but offers a more alternative perspective by including a focus on ecological sustainability. The case of Bhutan, oriented towards national communal and long-term goods, constitutes the most alternative approach taken on. The report concludes that measurements of happiness can constitute an alternative, and that an ideal focusing on community- and long-term oriented national happiness is worth striving for, being applied in each nation’s policy-making.