Happiness: Is the Isle of Man the future?

The Isle of Man could be the perfect testbed for a government approach that focuses more on gross national happiness than gross domestic product.

That is what Professor Peter Kinderman, head of Clinical Psychology at Liverpool University, told IOM Today when he was on the island earlier this week to talk about a project being managed by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) that is aiming to establish a national wellbeing index taking into account quality of life, economic performance and the environment.

Professor Kinderman, who is Chair of the British Psychological Society's Division of Clinical Psychology, told the newspaper:

"The island is unique and ideal. The population is exactly the right size and you have a unified health service, which would make it much easier to coordinate than in the UK. It would be a great opportunity and the research would not only benefit the Isle of Man but the wider world."

It is hoped that the ONS project will provide marked monetary benefits, because the UK loses £17bn a year through treatment, benefits and absenteeism caused by mental health problems.

"To plan government policy purely on economic indicators such as gross domestic product seems inadequate, so the development of an additional index of wellbeing is wise," Professor Kinderman added.