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Can happiness be measured? A UK foundation develops formula to calculate happiness

SAAMAH ABDALLAH New Economics Foundation (UK) "So we use subjective well being, so it's asking people how they feel about their lives and their life expectancy in the country.â? The formula is part of the Happy Planet Index. In its latest report, Costa Rica ranked number one.  In addition to analyzing how one feels about their life and their life expectancy rate, the country's ecological footprint is also considered. FERNANDO SANCHEZ CAMPOS Costa Rica's Ambassador to the Holy See "The index considers life expectancy, how people feel about their life, and how many natural resources are used to live comfortably. In this case Costa Rica fares quite well.â? SAAMAH ABDALLAH New Economics Foundation (UK) "If everyone in the world was to consume the amount of resources people do in the U.S you would need four planets to sustain humanity.â?   Costa Rica ranked number one, followed by Vietnam and then Colombia. In fact most of the top ranked countries are medium income nations in Latin America. The index does have its critics. Some say the formula doesn't give enough weight to human rights abuses, corruption or other social issues. But still, the index has triggered a debate that's long overdue. NIGEL BAKER UK Ambassador to the Holy See "I think the economic crisis, particularly because it has affected most of all the wealthy countries, has generated a real interest in this debate and a lot of questions, as well.â? Sharing and interacting with others is also high on the list. It follows the argument of happiness is not really happiness unless its shared. SAAMAH ABDALLAH New Economics Foundation (UK) "It's interactions with other people. It's having a close social relationship, intimate ones with partners, friends and family.â? So even though money and high salaries may give people a temporary high, the study says it's social stability, family, friends, health, education and respect for the environment that makes part of a happy life. KLH AA -VM -PR -up:SCar