Which factors determine prosperity?
The Human Development Index evaluates the level of development
While the study commission currently boils down to the set of indicators, other experts have decided on the overall index. Probably the best-known alternative measure of prosperity is the Human Development Index (HDI) calculated by the United Nations since 1990, which is mainly used in the development policy debate. The HDI is essentially made up of the three areas of income, education and health. Examples of variables used are life expectancy at birth, the average number of school years and GDP per capita. In terms of the HDI, Norway has the highest level of development in the world, followed by Australia and the Netherlands. The USA is in 4th place and Germany in 9th place (as of 2011).
The Better Life Index brings the standard of living and quality of life together
The Better Life Index, published for the first time in 2011 by the industrialized countries organization OECD, takes considerably more factors into account than the Human Development Index - they come from the two areas of "Material living conditions" and "Quality of life". The first category includes income, assets, employment, unemployment and the housing situation. The second category covers aspects similar to the Bhutanese national happiness, namely: health, the relationship between work and leisure, education, social ties, political participation, environmental quality, security and well-being. The respondents for the index can also indicate what weight they would like to give the individual criteria. Ultimately, however, the result differs only slightly from the result when all variables are weighted equally. The top 3 of the Better Life Index 2012 are Australia, Norway and the USA. Germany ranks 17th.
The Happy Planet Index puts prosperity in relation to environmental pollution
The situation is different with the Happy Planet Index of the British New Economics Foundation. For this index, life expectancy is multiplied by the life satisfaction of citizens determined in surveys and divided by their ecological footprint. Prosperity and well-being are therefore put in relation to environmental pollution. Developing and emerging countries do particularly well here: Costa Rica, Vietnam and Colombia are ahead in 2012, while Germany is just 46th. This serious shift is mainly due to the fact that the stress on the environment is given a very high weight in the denominator of the Happy Planet Index, but economically weaker - and on top of that, climatically favored - countries are naturally better off here than the industrialized countries of the northern hemisphere.
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