By: Toivo Halvorsen

Tom opens up quoting Joseph Stiglitz:

The time is ripe for our measurement system to shift emphasis from measuring economic production to measuring people’s well being.”

Stiglitz Commission Report, August 2009, p. 12, emphasis in original

Tome continues with showing us Robert Kennedys Famous speech from 1968 where he addresses the problems of GDP as an indicator for wealth. Main Problem with GDP: If we go war and if there is a Hurricane Kathrina, GDP goes up.


Shows us a film clip from a TED summit in England “starring” Nic Marks, the head of NEF.

Nic is founded nef’s award-winning Centre for Well-being and has led the well-being program at nef since 2001. Nic is a recognized expert in the field of well-being research and undertakes innovative research in the use of well-being indicators in public policy environments. Nic has expertise in relation to individual, social, economic and environmental indicators of well being and has previously applied his work in policy fields as diverse as sustainable development, health and social care, education, culture and the arts, and employment.

How do we measure happiness?

He gives the example of a very happy nation called Costa Rica, a country that uses very little resources to get there.

Talks about the example of Butan and the 16-year-old king who did not care about GDP, but instead was more concerned about GNH, (Yes Gross national happiness)

1) Nic talks Subjective well being:

What we need is to start building a new system of measuring what we want.

Quotes Stiglitz again: What we measure is what we get. That is why there is a big problem with using GDP. If we use GDP, we only get what GDP measures and that is a lot of throughput that does not at all consider the results for humans.

The 9 domains of happiness:

The 9 Domains are:


Material Well Being

Psychological Well Being


Time Balance

Community Vitality

Cultural Vitality


There is a question from the audience about Money$$$$

What is enough?

Tom says that according to research U.S. $ 75.000 is the average of what a family needs in America to be happy.

What about the workload that we have in the U.S?

Time balance: 21-hour workweek is suggested.

Tom gives an example of a Danish graduate student that was studying in the U.S.

In Denmark they have1 year feternity leave, husband 6 months, 3-4 four weeks of paid vacation

(My thought: How much should we emphasize on the data? It seems that suddenly happiness is all about data and the ability to measure it. To me that is a bit strange. )

Tome says that we have measure peoples happiness on any given street corner with video technology by measuring their smile.

The question is, why do we need to measure it so often? Do we really want it to become like a stock market?

Tom a very good point when he looks at Egypt. Looked like things were going up, but what has happened there lately? We have seen big revolts and deep desire for change, a proof that things were not going so well after all and that the increases in GDP that we have seen in Egypt lately is mostly just benefitting the rich.


Here are some of the questions that the audience had:

Q1) which model will work best for VT?

Q2) which measurement will work best

Q3) suggests a report card for happiness.

Overall an interesting discussion and it will be interesting to see how nations in the future will address some of these issues.