On Community Happiness

Considering the Declaration of Independence and its mention of the "inalienable right" of "happiness", Kaid Benfield wonders what the pursuit of happiness can and should mean for communities.
June 30, 2011, 12pm PDT | Nate Berg
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The government of Bhutan has for decades kept track of its"gross national happiness", and others are starting to follow.

"Here in the US, an organization called Sustainable Seattle believes that happiness is an important policy objective whose achievement can be measured. The organization believes that Seattle, and by extension the U.S., should maintain a gross national happiness index to stand alongside economic measures such as gross domestic product. They, too, are conducting a survey.

The Seattle initiative's "objective indicators" of happiness include the poverty rate, air emissions, voter turnout, graduation rates, volunteer rates, rates of domestic violence and other crime, life expectancy, commute time, work time, and others. Nearly 2,500 residents of Seattle have taken the initiative's 135-question survey, says Eldan Goldenberg of Sustainable Seattle. Those who have apparently self-report favorably with respect to social connection, psychological well-being, and material well-being. but less well in their assessment of environmental quality and 'time balance.'"

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Published on Wednesday, June 29, 2011 in The Atlantic
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