Panel of experts urge feds to measure, pursue our happiness
WASHINGTON (AP) – Happy or sad? Content or bored? And how many times did you smile yesterday? A panel of experts thinks Uncle Sam should be more in touch with our feelings.
By gauging happiness, there’d be more to consider than cold hard cash when deciding matters that affect daily lives, according to a report this week from the National Academy of Sciences, which advises the government.
The panel of economists, psychologists and other experts assembled by the academy recommended that federal statistics and surveys, which normally deal with income, spending, health and housing, include a few extra questions on happiness.
“You want to know how people are doing?” said panel chairman Arthur Stone, a professor of psychology at New York’s Stony Brook University. “One of things you may want to do is ask them.”
Asking how people feel can be as important as how much they are spending, Stone said.
For example, economists have something they call the “misery index” which adds the unemployment and inflation rates, but doesn’t include how people feel. If you want to know misery, the question to ask is “how much suffering is going on,” he said.
The panel suggests a series of questions to measure daily happiness and general well-being, asking how often you smiled, were stressed, laughed or were in pain. Example questions ranged from a simple yes-no “Yesterday, did you spend time with friends or family?” to a more complex 1-10 rating for “Overall, how satisfied are you with your life nowadays?”