(Vatican Radio) Can you measure the well-being of society? Is happiness a quantifiable factor in economic growth? Does religion influence our sense of faith in the future? These questions will be at the heart of a conference taking place on Tuesday, May 28th at the Rome headquarters of the De La Salle Brothers.
Organised by the British and Costa Rican embassies to the Holy See, together with the Pontifical Council for Culture, the half day conference will showcase the work of the UK based New Economics Foundation which seeks to provide policy makers with a better understanding of what constitutes the well-being of individuals and communities. Participants, including the President of the Council for Culture, Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, will reflect on the growing conviction that Gross Domestic Product and other economic indices are inadequate ways of measuring the health and well-being of our nations.To find out more, Philippa Hitchen spoke with Britain’s ambassador to the Holy See, Nigel Baker.
“It’s a longstanding debate going back to the late ‘70s and early ‘80’s, people like Amartya Sen and Joseph Stiglitz have long been involved in this debate which springs from a lack of satisfaction with GDP as a measure of a society’s progress……we all know that wealth is not the sole criteria for a successful society.
In Britain since 2010, within our Office of National Statistics we’ve had a national well-being programme instituted by the government of David Cameron to try and find ways in which, by better measuring well-being, politicians can apply better instruments for improving the lives of people.
The Happy Planet Index has generated plenty of criticism and many people say there’s not enough weight given to human rights – how can a country like Cuba, for example, which is in the top 10 I think, be a happier place than the U.S. which is a long way down the list, but this is an important part of the debate…..”