Metrics Matter

Metrics Matter

Kate Vavrousek

Metrics GDP by Laura Musikanski from Happy Counts

Metrics GDP by Laura Musikanski from Happy Counts

This infographic, created by Laura Musikanski from Happiness Alliance shows how what we measure can have a widespread influence on our society, economy, and the environment. Using GDP as a metric is representative of the neoliberal hierarchy in the U.S. – and fails to accurately measure the complete picture. Society is not just money. How can you put a dollar amount on well-being? Energy, economics, and the environment and the intersection of these pillars need to have representation in our metrics.

As Laura accurately describes in this infographic, what we measure matters. By only considering GDP, we are doing considerable social harm by increasing inequality and destroying natural resources – all in the name of short-term growth. To constantly increase GDP, we are constantly using an increasing amount of resources. GDP as a primary measurement then informs society what our values are as a society, and in turn, this is reflected in policy decisions.

To change the direction of our policies, decisions, actions, and outcomes, we need to use different measurements of prosperity. Sustainability and happiness metrics change the frame and re-inform our social values!

Some examples of alternative metrics:

Gross National Happiness –

Happy Planet Index –

National Human Development Report – 

Social Progress Index – 


Laura Musikanski, JD, MBA is the Executive Director and co-founder of The Happiness Alliance, home of The Happiness Initiative and Gross National Happiness Index.

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