Costa Rica, superstar? some reflections on the global drivers and bottlenecks of the happy planet index
For some years now, the Happy Planet Organization presents the so-called ‘Happy Planet Index’ (HPI), which is an index of measuring the trade-off between ecological footprint data and life quality (Happy Life Years, HLYE). Costa Rica emerges from these comparisons as the world’s ‘best practice nation’, using a minimum amount of natural resources to achieve a maximum of human happiness. So is Costa Rica the pathway for humanity? There are shortcomings in the formula, with which the index is calculated (Happy Life Years divided by Ecological Footprint per capita, and some constants added). Using a re-formulation, the global ranking with Costa Rica on top is indeed confirmed. We present some evidence on the cross-national drivers and bottlenecks of our re-formulated Happy Planet Index (HPI) performance on a global scale: a wide variety of standard globalization variables have little influence on HPI performance. Big countries with large population resources perform somewhat better, and low military expenditures per GDP are a constraint on HPI performance. Beneficial effects are also wielded by received worker remittances. Efficiency tends to increase and then to decrease with rising development levels.
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