Happiness is an individual pursuit that is constant and bound by a subjective notion of what it means to be happy. Governments can do little to influence an individual’s happiness but can be instrumental in creating an environment conducive to the pursuit itself. By contrast, the pursuit of economic growth is a collective pursuit that is boundless and considered a high priority of governments, partly due to its presumed effect of making people happy.
Happiness is a subjective condition that can be difficult to measure and interpret. Subjective well-being (SWB) is an increasingly standard measure of happiness around the world, and refers to how individuals understand the quality of their lives. It provides policy-makers with valuable insights on the determinants of wellbeing and, over time, will indicate impacts of national policies and programs aimed at improving living conditions for Ni-Vanuatu.
The survey also collected subjective information on perceived satisfaction levels in areas of importance that were identified through social research including personal health, family well-being, how personal time is spent, food security, housing, financial security and community, at the time of the survey, as well as perceived changes in satisfaction over the past year. Table 1 compares satisfaction levels in all seven dimensions by sex and region.
In almost all dimensions, a vast majority (over 80%) of Ni-Vanuatu report being more than satisfied with their current condition, with the notable exception of financial security. The highest levels of dissatisfaction were found in the dimension of financial security, with 11% of Ni-Vanuatu reportedly unsatisfied with the status of their personal finances, and this dissatisfaction is more pronounced in rural areas. Food security is, conversely, the dimension with the highest levels of satisfaction and lowest levels of dissatisfaction, with virtually no one (0.2%) reportedly unsatisfied with the status of their food supplies.