Happiness Tracking

Somerville officials want their city to be the first in the United States to systematically track people’s happiness.

Like some European leaders, such as in Britain and France, for example, the officials say they want to move beyond the traditional measures of success (such as economic growth) to promote policies that produce more than just material well-being.

In order to rate happiness, this spring officials sent, along with the city’s census forms, a questionnaire asking residents to rate their happiness on a scale from one to 10. So far, more than 7,500 people have mailed back the survey.

Monitoring the citizenry’s happiness has been advocated by prominent psychologists and economists, but not without debate over how to do it and whether happiness is even the right thing for politicians to be promoting. 

For more information, see our story Quantifying Life Quality.