Fun, crime and CO2 for International Day of Happiness

March 20, 2023

The group Action for Happiness has declared 20th March 2017 as International Day of Happiness. Call it what you want, but “happiness”, “wellbeing” or “life satisfaction” issues are slowly (and rightly in our view) creeping up the global agenda as an ideal to strive toward.  Indeed, some years ago OECD countries agreed to report wellbeing statistics (the UK produces them each year) and the Kingdom of Bhutan famously governs on the basis of Gross National Happiness.

So what’s the link with “fun, crime and CO2”? And why is it on a Baker Homes blog?  Measuring wellbeing is a favourite topic for our Senior Sustainability Consultant Richard Lupo.  So much so, he’s coined the term “Lupopia” for a methodology he’s developed.  Let’s expand.

Sooner, rather than later, governments, organisations and individuals will want to maximise human wellbeing.  On the way, they will need some way to measure it.  Measuring is absolutely essential, because, as the old adage goes, you can only manage what you measure. Only with a measure of wellbeing will we be able to monitor progress and evaluate whether our efforts work or not.  We’ll also be able to see if maximising the wellbeing of one set of the population has negative effects on other sectors of the population.

Readers’ may think that wellbeing is purely subjective and different people will have different ideas about what helps them maximise their own wellbeing”.  At first glance it may seem that it is therefore impossible to measure wellbeing in an objective way.  However, taking a cue from renowned psychologist Abraham Maslow, an excellent framework for measurement is available.  Maslow explained that, as humans, we all have five essential needs that we must be satisfied.  Indeed recent academic research [1] has found that the higher percentage that these needs are fulfilled does, indeed, correlate with higher levels of wellbeing.

Briefly Maslow’s needs are: basic (food, water, shelter, air); security; social (contact with others); esteem and “self-actualisation” (reaching your maximum potential).  Here’s some examples of how each level could be measured in the Lupopia way:

Security measure:
  • crime rates (ah-ha a link to the blog title). Latest statistics [2] report 4.1% of adults were victim of crime of personal crime once or more in the previous year. This could be interpreted as 95.9% secure.
  • Reducing CO2 emissions is also crucial for our security. Unsustainable emissions will result in water insecurity, food insecurity and flooding of our homes.  Using homes energy efficiency data, we estimate that UK social housing provides only 78% environmentally security
  • There are lots of other environmental issues that can be converted into a security figure e.g. air quality, biodiversity, water efficiency.
Social measure:
  • This is where fun comes in. European [3] statistics measures this by surveying people.   g. in answer to the question “how satisfied are you with your social life?”, Brits answer  7.08 out of 10 i.e. 70.8%.  Out of interest the chart below compares us against other EU countries

In summary, it is possible to derive measures of wellbeing based on both hard data (such as crime and carbon emissions) and softer data from surveys.  By averaging the degree to which all Maslow’s needs are satisfied we can monitor and ensure progress towards 100% wellbeing for everyone.

If you like the idea of measuring wellbeing for your organisation, Richard would love to hear from you.

[1] https://academic.udayton.edu/jackbauer/Readings%20595/Tay%20Diener%2011%20needs%20WB%20world%20copy.pdf

[2] https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/crimeandjustice/datasets/crimeinenglandandwalesannualtrendanddemographictables

[3] https://www.eurofound.europa.eu/surveys/data-visualisation/european-quality-of-life-survey-2024?locale=EN&dataSource=3RDEQLS&media=png&width=740&question=Y11_Q40g&plot=heatMap&countryGroup=linear&subset=Y11_Agecategory&subsetValue=All&answer=Mean

Richard Lupo

Richard Lupo

Areas of expertise: developing and instigating stream-lined processes to ensure environmental effectiveness

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Mary
Guest

Really interesting data! Care for the environment surely plays a huge role in wellbeing, particularly within sustainable homes as people spend so much of their time at home. If the building is in harmony with its natural surroundings, as well as built with energy efficiency in mind, it will surely have a positive effect. Thanks for this informative article!

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