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DG #20 Notes: Let’s talk about stats

Illustration: Christian Tate

In issue #20 of Delayed Gratification, we take a close look at the Gross Domestic Product – that mighty, approximation-riddled statistic which was designed to capture countries’ economic output, but is now often taken to represent their populations’ well-being.

Besides tracing the origins of the GDP, the DG #20 feature looks at some of the alternatives proposed by well-being economists. Here are some of our favourite data sets and rankings for you to play around with.

Measures of National Well-being, UK Office of National Statistics
The UK’s Office of National Statistics is one of the world’s leading organisations when it comes to measuring well-being. This interactive wheel allows you to compare how well Britons are doing in different areas of their lives – including happiness, education and environment – and shows how the indices are evolving over time. From the data, it appears that things are looking up for Britons: they are now the happiest they’ve been since the ONS started measuring happiness four years ago.


Better Life Index, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
How well off are the most well-off countries in the world compared to each other? The Better Life Index allows you to prioritise life areas including life satisfaction, work-life balance and income and will rank OECD countries accordingly. As it turns out, the US might be in the lead when it comes to income, but they don’t even make it into the top 10 in terms of life satisfaction, with Danes coming first in this category.


Happy Planet Index, New Economics Foundation
The Happy Planet Index measures how successful countries are at producing long, happy lives and then offsets this against countries’ ecological footprint. Bringing sustainability into the mix makes for some surprising outcomes, with Costa Rica, Vietnam and Jamaica making up the top 3. The UK is in 39th place.


Prosperity index, Legatum Institute
With its Prosperity Index, the Legatum Institute has assessed nations’ prosperity in terms of wealth and well-being since 2007. Explore rankings and break-downs in this series of interactive charts and tables.


DG #20 will start hitting subscribers’ doormats this Friday.

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