Benchmarking Happiness in Asian Countries

Eden Happiness Index

Politicians, philosophers, religious leaders, scientists, and economists have studied Happiness, trying to make the world a happier place. Policymakers are questioning the sustainability of pursuing economic growth, in the light of global social, environmental, and governance challenges. Singapore, Canada, Thailand, and the UK are following Bhutan’s lead, considering whether a country’s Gross National Happiness – as opposed to Gross Domestic Product – might be a more holistic quality of life indicator and government performance metric. Happiness and Wellbeing will also form the basis of new sustainable development goals, when the United Nations Millennium Development Goals expire in 2015.

On 20 March 2013, The International Day of Happiness, Eden Strategy Institute designed and launched Asia’s first scientifically-driven, independent and objective Happiness Index that spans multiple social media platforms across five Asian countries, to better understand the true levels of happiness on a widespread basis across entire online populations. The Asia Happiness Index is backed by scientifically-reviewed principles of true happiness, powered by an online intelligence tracking engine, and comprehensively covers over 200 million social media accounts in our initial set of five countries for one year.

Happiness Index as of March 2014

The graph below shows the Happiness Index from August 2013 to March 2014.

Summary of Findings
This study was independently undertaken to provide a common vocabulary for citizens, policymakers, and businesses have a comparable metric for Happiness. This leads to a meaningful dialogue where individuals will know at any point where the country stands on Happiness, feel empowered to take action should they wish, and be able to monitor their impact directly.

By reviewing thousands of social media sentiments, we’ve made the following observations of how different countries perceive happiness:

1. Despite recent complaints, the majority of Singaporeans continue to build on the Singaporean dream of self-actualisation, meritocracy, safety, and efficiency in society. The youth is particularly vocal during festive periods and special occasions, express their encouragement, and share pictures as a means of connecting with each other.

2. Malaysians enjoy a unique community approach to most of their favourite activities, which range from politics and shopping , to soccer and supper. They are careful to make sure they do not overstress, although the current political dynamics are creating some negative sentiment.

3. In the Philippines, happiness comes from a sense of large, extended families. Being a mostly Catholic country, many Filipinos have a predisposition to look for the best in everyone. They are taught from young to support the underdog, find joy in hard work, and smile at hardships.

4. In India, the institution of large, traditional families living together creates strong social support. Families make joint decisions on most matters, and play the main role in the many festive occasions that India enjoys. There is also a strong sense of patriotism, but some general concerns over violence, crime, infrastructure, the lack space, and public health.

5. Indonesia espouses a helpful communal spirit of “gotong royong”. Many Indonesians have learnt to appreciate the small things in life. The local cuisine continually comes up as a source of pride and a reason to get together, a reminder of the richness of the land. The predominantly Muslim ethos focuses on moderation and contentment.

Download the full press release:
Press release_Singaporeans are Asia’s happiest people online (19 Mar 2013)

About Eden Strategy Institute

Eden Strategy Institute is Asia’s leader in Social Innovation. Its distinctive approach to sustainable advantage helps leading global corporations, governments, and non-profit organizations design new growth platforms, operations, products, and services, and align them with market forces and developmental opportunities. Eden has helped bring disruptive innovations that generate financial value from creating social impact, such as in the areas of happiness, active ageing, educational innovation, emerging middle class technologies, and energy efficiency.