Europe

Friday 1 August 2014

Sarkozy sets out to revolutionise economy with 'happiness' factor

Henry Samuel in Paris

Published 15/09/2009|00:00

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France has long been famed for its love of the good life -- the land of wine, cheese and generous holidays.

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Now Nicolas Sarkozy has cemented that reputation by proposing the country's economic progress should be measured in "happiness" rather than cold statistics.

The French president yesterday announced a "revolutionary" plan to make joy and well-being the key indicators of growth, rather than traditional yardsticks like GDP.

The assessment will be based on figures relating to work-life balance, recycling and chores.

Mr Sarkozy asked two Nobel Prize winners, Joseph Stiglitz, an American critic of free-market economists; and Armatya Sen of India, to come up with the new measures.

The French government is now planning to include many of the "happiness" indicators in its regular growth statistics.

Mr Sarkozy said he would "fight to make all international organisations change their statistical system".

He said: "A great revolution is waiting for us. For years, people said that finance was a formidable creator of wealth, only to discover... that it accumulated so many risks that the world almost plunged into chaos.

"The crisis doesn't only make us free to imagine other models, another future, another world. It obliges us to do so."

Mr Sarkozy told a packed hall at the Sorbonne University that the world could have predicted the economic crisis if it had looked at happiness, well-being and sustainability.

So far the remote Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan is the only country to put happiness at the heart of policy.

The government must consider every policy for its impact on "Gross National Happiness".

This has led to a ban on advertising, wrestling channels, plastic bags and traffic lights. (©Daily Telegraph, London)

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