Improving the Way We Measure Progress of Society: The Philippine Happiness Index among the Poor and the Unhappy
Romulo A. Virola, Jessamyn O. Encarnacion, Mark C. Pascasio
National Statistical Coordination Board, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines

In recent years, the international community recognized the need to measure progress of societies beyond conventional economic measures such as gross domestic product (GDP) and gross national product (GNP). In response to emerging concerns of societies, other measures of welfare, such as the human development index (HDI), families of measures of poverty, the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) indicators and happiness index, among others, have surfaced to improve the monitoring of the development of a nation.

One measure that the international community has recently highlighted is a more meaningful measure of the progress of societies that captures measures of happiness. This was articulated in various fora – the Istanbul Declaration during the 2nd OECD World Forum on Statistics, Knowledge, and Policy, the 3rd OECD World Forum, and the Report by the Commission on the Measurement of Economic Performance and Social Progress, prepared by Joseph Stiglitz, Amartya Sen et. al., for France.

In the Philippine Statistical System (PSS), the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB) started its pioneering work on the Philippine Happiness Index (PHI) in 2007. The NSCB developed a methodology to estimate the PHI to measure happiness which can be combined with conventional economic indicators and consequently come up with a more multi-dimensional measure of the progress of a society. This was updated in 2008 and in October 2010, the NSCB investigated the sources of happiness of selected subgroups, including low-income families/individuals.

With poverty as the overarching concern of most countries in the world, particularly the developing countries - it is not surprising that statistics generated by governments have focused on the low-income families/individuals. But with the need to measure genuine progress of society as well as to address the vulnerability of specific sectors, it has become essential to develop a happiness index among the poor.

To validate the PHI framework that has been developed by the NSCB, this paper will come up with the PHI among the poor. This paper will also attempt to investigate the sources of happiness of those categorized as “happy” as well as the “unhappy”.


Virola, Romulo A. and Encarnacion, Jessamyn O. Measuring Progress of Philippine Society: GNP or Gross National Happiness. 10th National Convention on Statistics (NCS). October 2007.

Virola, Romulo A. and Encarnacion, Jessamyn O. Towards Measuring Progress of Societies: The Philippine Experience. 57th Session of the International Statistical Institute. August 2009.

Virola, Romulo A. and Encarnacion, J.O., Pascasio, Mark C., and Clavido, Raul A. Measuring Progress of Philippine Society: What Makes the Poor Happy? 11th National Convention on Statistics (NCS). October 2010.

Keywords: Philippine Happiness Index; low-income families; happy; unhappy

Biography: The presenter is a Bachelor of Science in Applied Mathematics major in Operations Research graduate at the University of the Philippines Los Baños. He is currently working at the Economic Statistics Office of the National Statistical Coordination Board of the Republic of the Philippines as a Statistical Coordination Officer. He serves as the lead statistician for the quarterly and annual estimates of Import of Goods and the Changes in Inventories sectors from the Expenditure Accounts of the National Accounts. He is also the lead documenter of the Technical Working Group on Trade in Goods in the Philippines.