The most important economic statistic for a country is GDP or GDP growth. GDP measures the total value of goods and services produced over a specific time period, and its probably the most important indicator of economic growth. As a citizen of a particular country, you want your domestic GDP to grow as much as possible, so that you know your economy is in good shape. As GDP increases, so does the standard of living.
But why care about standard of living? Because the standard of living that we as citizens experience is related to the happiness and enjoyment of our lives.
Maybe, in addition to GDP measurements, we should focus on happiness measurements as well. After all, isnt the reason we care so much about GDP and hence, our standards of living, to achieve the highest level of happiness as possible?
There are many other aspects of happiness or quality of life that GDP does not incorporate. For example, the beauty of our surroundings, the quality of our culture, the strength of our relationships, good health, freedom from conflict, and educational opportunities. Having a happiness measure would more closely follow a nations happiness levels compared to correlating GDP with happiness levels.
This isnt to say that money isnt a factor in happiness. It most certainly is. A happiness measure would help us as a country focus on other issues that affect our quality of life, that GDP may not recognize.
(LIFE SATISFACTION REPORT, PEW RESEARCH CENTER, 2014; GDP DATA: IMF, 2014)
This chart found on the Credit Suisse website shows the relation between per capita GDP and levels of happiness. Although there is clearly a correlation between GDP and happiness, you can see many less developed countries scoring high levels of happiness. Looking into the reasons why these less developed countries report high levels of satisfaction in their lives can help us achieve even greater progress than we already have.