Azara Blog: Cameron wastes public money on happiness index

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Date published: 2010/11/28

The BBC says:

Prime Minister David Cameron has insisted his £2m plan to measure the nation's happiness is not "woolly".

He said economic growth remained the most "urgent priority" but he wanted a better measure of how the country was doing than GDP.

From April, the Office for National Statistics will ask people to rate their own well-being with the first official happiness index due in 2012.

But before that it wants the public to give their views in a consultation.

Labour also attempted to measure quality of life when it was in power but then prime minister Tony Blair abandoned the idea, after it proved too difficult to pin down.

But Mr Cameron, who first floated the idea of a "happiness index" in 2005, when he was running for the leadership of the Conservative Party, argues that gross domestic product (GDP) - the standard measure of economic activity used around the world - is no longer up to the job.

Launching the consultation on Thursday, he said: "We'll continue to measure GDP as we've always done, but it is high time we admitted that, taken on its own, GDP is an incomplete way of measuring a country's progress."
...
GDP was too "crude" a measure of progress as it failed to take into account wider social factors - he cited the example of "irresponsible" marketing to children, an immigration "free for all" and a "cheap booze free for all", which had all boosted economic growth at the expense of social problems.

2 million pounds equates to over 200 student grants at the new 9k pound per year level being proposed by the government. And that is just the initial cost of this Cameron vanity exercise.

There are already zillions of statistical measures apart from GDP which measure a "country's progress", such as life expectancy, educational achievement, etc. The implication here is that we somehow need to summarise all these other measures in one number so that the government, having failed miserably on the economic front, can point to another number (assuming they can rig it so that it always goes up). It will also allow the usual middle class control freaks to have yet another excuse for stopping things they happen not to like (e.g. "cheap" booze).

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