The Maldives has announced plans to establish a national happiness index aimed at measuring the satisfaction and happiness of its citizens. Local Government Minister Adam Shareef Umar revealed the initiative during a press conference on Thursday.

Minister Umar emphasised the importance of understanding the happiness levels across the Maldivian islands to better assess the conditions affecting its residents. “This is an effort to identify how people living across the islands measure the state of the islands and their level of happiness,” he stated, indicating that the government seeks to gain deeper insights into the well-being of the population.

The proposed happiness index will incorporate a broad set of criteria, including low crime rates, sustainable development, good hygiene standards, strong community and familial bonds, and inclusive environments for children, the elderly, and people with disabilities. Other factors like educational and health standards, societal awareness, respect for cultural heritage, and economic elements such as income and freedom from corruption will also be considered.

According to Minister Umar, the development of the happiness index will be a collaborative process involving public opinion and consultations with experts, ensuring that the framework reflects the views and preferences of the majority. Islands that perform well on this index will receive awards, incentivising improvements across various parameters.

The Maldives’ initiative mirrors global trends where more countries are adopting well-being measures to supplement traditional economic indicators. This shift acknowledges the complex nature of happiness and well-being, extending beyond mere economic success to encompass broader social and environmental factors.

The national happiness index is scheduled to be introduced next year and will be based on international best practices.

The global pursuit of happiness has led to the creation of various happiness indices, among which the World Happiness Report stands prominent. This report assesses global happiness based on factors such as GDP per capita, social support, healthy life expectancy, freedom to make life choices, generosity, and perceptions of corruption. These criteria aim to provide a comprehensive measure of the well-being of nations by examining both economic and social dimensions that contribute to quality of life.

Each year, the report ranks countries worldwide, shedding light on the nations where citizens report the highest levels of happiness. The methodology involves extensive surveys, like those conducted by Gallup World Poll, and combines economic data with subjective life evaluations of the surveyed individuals. 

This blend of objective and subjective measures helps policymakers and researchers understand the complexities of happiness in different cultural and economic contexts.

In 2023, the happiest countries, according to the World Happiness Report, include Finland, Denmark, and Iceland at the top of the list. These nations consistently excel in various happiness metrics, reflecting strong social support systems, high degrees of freedom, low corruption, and effective welfare states.