It’s time to add a wellbeing index to national economic reports, according to three leading economists, who argue that it would offer policymakers a better frame of reference, or even an alert about an impending crisis.

Carol Graham from the Brookings Institution, Kate Laffan from the London School of Economics and Sergio Pinto from the University of Maryland have suggested in their article published in the journal ‘Science’ that adding measurements such as degree of happiness to economic indicators would provide a more complete picture of a country’s overall health than mere economic numbers.

For instance, the USA shows high GDP and low unemployment numbers; however, suicide rates in the country continue to be high, leading one to ask if knowing the happiness levels of its residents along with economic numbers would provide a more accurate picture.

Graham, Laffan and Pinto suggest that national economic reports need to include a wellbeing index, which may provide a warning to a looming crisis and perhaps even help avert it. A wellbeing index is necessary for long-term sustainability, according to the economists.

Wellbeing metrics will not only provide policymakers statistics at virtually every level of the society but can also offer lawmakers relevant data about social issues. Assessing a country’s health based on mere economic indicators can provide paradoxical inferences but adding a wellbeing index can help resolve such inconsistencies.

Bhutan, for instance, surveys their population every five years to test the mood of the country while the UK has been measuring national happiness since 2011.

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