December 2, 2011
The thought of being able to determine which countries are happiest and why, has always sparked curiosity and debate in my world and in the world of political science. There have been studies done researching various factors that could either positively or negatively affect humans’ happiness and well-being around the world, but, because of the immense subjectivity of happiness, we cannot necessarily determine which countries (as a whole) are happiest and why, but we can determine which countries have the highest percentage of citizens within them that define themselves as happy, and why. Configuration of the factors and other things that go into determining happiness across cultures and countries is important to study because it can help us reach social justice and equality, and eventually reach ecological sustainability. By weeding out unimportant material factors, we can decide the best uses for limited materials, and we can identify other (non-material) factors that are important (“Understanding Human Happiness and Well Being”).
As defined in the World Database of Economics, happiness is ‘the degree to which an individual judges the overall quality of her/his life as-a-whole favorably’ (Veenhoven, 2007), this definition poses a few problems; because happiness is subjective, the question of reliability and validity is raised. The best way to measure levels of individual well-being would be by using subjective means, such as surveys, but, this brings us back to the issue stated above; we do not know which factors people take into consideration when answering the surveys and we do not know the level of honesty that each person is responding with, this skews the validity of the findings (Foroohar, 2007). The existence of these issues raises many skepticisms and criticisms when it comes to measuring and comparing levels of happiness across cultures and societies, however, happiness economists... [continues]
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