Saturday, December 11, 2010

Suddenly it all makes sense

So that's why there's a significant backlash against even trying to measure happiness as a positive outcome - as at least Andrew Jackson's quick chart suggests that it correlates nicely with low inequality. But let's take the comparison a step further by also considering the provincial ranks for GDP per capita. Among the interesting connections between the three factors:

- Prince Edward Island ranks #1 for both lowest inequality and most satisfaction. And the fact that the province ranks #10 in GDP per capita doesn't seem to have affected the high degree of provincial happiness.
- Conversely, British Columbia, Ontario, Alberta and Saskatchewan all rank in the top 5 for GDP per capita, while also ranking as the four provinces notably higher than the others in inequality. And all have a happiness ranking significantly below their GDP ranking (5 and 9, 4 and 10, 1 and 5, and 2 and 4 respectively).
- And for those wondering whether there's an inevitable conflict between reducing inequality and the level of GDP per capita, Newfoundland and Labrador looks to serve as a strong counterexample - ranking #3 in per-capita GDP, tied for #3 in lowest inequality, and #2 in satisfaction.

Of course, the above is only an extremely rough look based on a crude ranking which doesn't take into account the level of difference between provinces. But on the surface, there looks to be enough of a disconnect between GDP and citizen satisfaction to suggest that any attempt to actually determine what people want - rather than simply assuming that it correlates with and is measured by wealth - may well lead to some serious questions about our current policy direction.

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