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Got Happiness? First UN International Day of Happiness


Don’t laugh. It’s true, and it’s serious business. Today is the world’s first International Happiness Day, declared by the UN to signal the importance of going beyond Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as a measure of progress. We need, says the UN, better measures of society’s real wellbeing — including happiness.

GDP was never meant for the job. In 1934, Harvard economist and Nobel Laureate Simon Kuznets devised the measure to help the U.S. climb out of the Great Depression, but he was clear about GDP’s limits, warning congress that “the welfare of a nation can...scarcely be inferred from a measurement of national income...”

How right he was. Since the 1960s, U.S. GDP per capita has doubled, but average happiness? It hasn’t budged.

Finally, people are starting to pay attention. Noting what a poor guide GDP has been, an international