Happy Planet Measurement Has US at the Bottom

The United States ranks supreme when measured by gross domestic product (GDP)—the value of all goods and services produced in the country in one year. Per capita, we’re second to the European Union. But a different national success measurement doesn’t have America anywhere near the top.

The Happy Planet Index (HPI) released its third annual report this week. HPI ranked 151 countries by their ability to deliver long and content lives (determined by survey) in conjunction with a reasonable ecological footprint—that is, providing food and other necessities for the average citizen while also absorbing that citizen’s ecological impact (including carbon emissions). It’s that last part of the measurement that pushed the United States to its 105-of-151 rank. Americans’ life expectancy is in the top 40 and our well-being is in the top 20, but an ecological footprint of 7.19 global hectares per capita placed the US only six spots from last place in that category.

This map from New Scientist visually compares countries’ rankings through distortion by GDP then by HPI.

GDP is the generally accepted measurement of national success, but several alternatives have been praised for their more comprehensive calculations. Including environmental cost within HPI make for a longer-term measure of success that takes into account the negative impacts of climate change and environmental destruction.

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate