Tuesday, January 11, 2011

How to Determine the Health of a Country?

In the recent  Chosun Ilbo, a survey report of 5000 people from Korea and nine other countries did not surprise: Koreans were shown to be the most attached to material prosperity.

One of the survey questions was to select from a list of eight celebrities the person you thought the happiest, including yourself.  In most countries the persons surveyed selected themselves. In second place was the Dalai Lama; in  Korea the  top pick was Bill Gates, considered by many to be the richest person in the world.

Responses to the question: What degree of happiness do you have? revealed the "happiest country" to be Brazil, with 57.2 percent considering themselves very happy and nearly 92 percent considering themselves happy. Korea had slightly over 7 percent who considered themselves very happy, and 70.3 percent, happy.

To the statement that there is no relationship between money and happiness, only 7.2 percent of the Koreans agreed.  Which was, again, the lowest of the ten countries.

A professor reviewing the results said that, according to some, after reaching a certain level of prosperity the law of  diminishing returns begins to operate. You sacrifice other values to achieve material prosperity. The work necessary to gain this prosperity takes away leisure time that could be spent with family and friends. The desire for the material comforts of life in Korea is three times that of the  States and twice that of Japan. Since the beginning of 1960 Korea has increased its per capita GDP(Gross Domestic Product) 250 times. A world record. Despite this remarkable achievement, the happiness index of Korea is the lowest of the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) countries.  This is an indication, he feels, of an unconscious desire for material satisfaction.

The positive conditions for happiness in Korea are many compared to other countries. Although Korea faces increasing unemployment, an aging population with its attending health concerns, and the destruction of the environment, which will impinge on the degree of happiness of our citizens, the professor feels the conditions are there  to see a change in the index of happiness.  "However, it is not only an individual  task," he says. "Without a happy society, we will not have  individual happiness. Happiness in society can  be achieved only by working with others."

Many see the GDP as a good indicator of material prosperity but a poor gauge to determine the well-being of a society. A better way to indicate the overall health of a society is needed. A way that would also take into account the non-material areas of life--that would be a happy change.

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