The International Day of Happiness is celebrated every year on 20 March. A good occasion to focus once again on the CBS Happiness Meter, first launched on 25 January 2016, which provides updated figures on wellbeing among the Dutch population.
More focus on well-being
Economic growth and material prosperity are often the core indicators of a country’s present situation. But economic progress is not always accompanied by social progress. There is a growing awareness that apart from gross domestic product (GDP), other indicators are just as relevant to describe where a country stands. More focus is thereby being shifted to the population’s wellbeing. In recent years, CBS has made major investments in developing better ways of mapping out the wellbeing of the Dutch population in figures. Aside from standard publications such as StatLine tables and articles, as of 25 January 2016, CBS also offers an interactive infographic: the Happiness Meter.
People can use the Happiness Meter to calculate their personal happiness score online and compare it with the score of the average Dutch person or with specific groups in the population. The average Dutch happiness score in 2015 was 7.1. The province of Flevoland had a slightly lower score: 6.8. The provinces of Limburg and Zuid-Holland also scored lower: 7.0. People in Gelderland province are happiest according to their 7.2 score. All other provinces score an average 7.1. Dutch people are most satisfied with their house and living environment, rating these an average 8.0 and 7.9 respectively. Most people tend to be less satisfied with their financial situation. In this area, the score is an average 7.0. Not everyone is equally satisfied; people with higher education are usually happier with different aspects of their lives than those with lower eduation levels.
What was the idea behind the Happiness Meter for CBS? Linda Moonen, project leader in statistics on wellbeing: ‘There is a dual purpose in presenting this infographic: on the one hand, to increase people’s awareness of the fact that such CBS data exist; on the other hand, to offer better insight into the phenomenon of wellbeing, colloquially called happiness.’ Visualisation is one of the spearheads in CBS’ innovation programme. As such, the infographic is sponsored by this programme. Various parties, both internal and external, are also working together in developing the related know-how.
The Happiness Meter was developed by Wayform in cooperation with CBS. Wayform is specialised in making data personal and comprehensible by way of interactive data visualisations. Roy Mingelers, co-founder at Wayform: ‘The key is knowing when to develop such publications and how to communicate with the outside world, provided there is an added value for the user in comparison with traditional publications. To give an example: presenting an overview of many data which are all interrelated, or clarifying a complex phenomenon’.