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Happiness index to improve weak spots: Taiwan prez
Publication Date : 14-03-2013
Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou said yesterday that although happiness is very hard to quantify, the government launched its gross national happiness index to determine whether there has been improvement in the national wellbeing of Taiwan by using quantifiable data.
Shih Su-mei, minister of the Directorate General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics (DGBAS), yesterday gave a report on the topic at the ruling Kuomintang's (KMT) weekly Central Standing Committee meeting.
After hearing Shih's report, Ma, who doubles as KMT chairman, explained that the government used the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development's (OECD) well-established Your Better Life Index as a standard and added localised indicators in devising its own index.
“In terms of societal and economic development, Taiwan meets the OECD's criteria for membership, but because of our diplomatic isolation, we have been unable to join the organisation,” the president said. “But by using (Taiwan's happiness index), on the one hand, the public can gauge the island's improvement in relation to the world; on the other hand, we can further realign ourselves with international practice.”
Ma pointed out that the administration internalised two UN human rights covenants as part of Taiwan's municipal law in an attempt to facilitate national well-being.
Although Taiwan was not ranked in the UN's Gender Inequality Index due to its non-member status, the island would have ranked fourth in terms equality between the sexes if included, according to the president.
“During my tenure as Taipei mayor, I became very concerned with the problem of income disparity between men and women. At the time, the female workforce earned less than 80 per cent of its male counterpart's income, but now that number has increased to 83.4 per cent,” Ma said.
If one was to look at first jobs, however, there is only a 3-per cent difference, the president said.
Figures show that the younger the generation, the lower the disparity, Ma added.
In terms of those under the age of 40 with junior college diplomas and above, women now outnumber men, Ma said.
”As one can imagine, Taiwan is seeing improvements. I believe that the gross national happiness index will also show steady progress,” the president said, urging the administration to keep working hard.
With the index, the country will be able to identify its weak spots and improve on them, Ma said, lauding the DGBAS for its efforts toward devising the indicator.