How is happiness measured? The Equitable and Sustainable Well-being in the Italian public finance cycle

Foto Come si misura la felicità dei cittadini? Il benessere equo e sostenibile nel ciclo italiano di finanza pubblica

Satisfaction, happiness, quality of-life, self-realisation, utility, pleasure: there is an ongoing international debate on whether GDP should be ousted as the sole indicator of well-being. The benchmark on which the progress of a society can be evaluated should not be solely economic. This is demonstrated by the World Bank's per capita GDP classifications: in 2017 Italy was among 16% of the most prosperous countries, but ranked only 48th (out of 155) in the World Happiness Report. In short, given parity of GDP, by comparison with other countries, Italy is lacking in certain "happiness factors".

But what is the relationship between GDP and happiness? And how can the well-being of citizens be measured? A set of indicators, known as SDG (Sustainable Development Goals), which "go beyong GDP", has been developed at international level with the 2030 Agenda. Italy has developed the BES (Benessere Equo e Sostenibile) indicators, with which is at the forefront in this process: it is the first country which has officially accorded equitable and sustainable well-being a role in the public finance cycle.

This document is a guide to the methodological foundations and practical difficulties of the new Italian BES indicators.

  • Tables and figures


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