Leading article: Focus on what matters

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The Independent Online

David Cameron's "happiness index" is up and running. Jil Matheson, of the Office for National Statistics, unveiled a national survey on life satisfaction yesterday. It will be used to help assess the impact of future policies on the population's well-being.

It is not a worthless project. The GDP figures do not capture everything about our lives. The support we get from our friends and neighbours and the quality of the local environment can be as important as income levels when determining our sense of contentment.

Yet it is unfortunate for the Government that its search for new measures of our quality of life has coincided with some alarming figures from the traditional indicators. A study by the Resolution Foundation has found that over the past 30 years the share of national income going to those in the bottom half of the earnings spectrum has fallen by a quarter, while the rewards of those in the top 1 per cent has increased by half. Many people would probably prefer the Government to focus on determining the causes of that – and looking for ways to counter it – rather than searching for new methods of measuring the way people feel about the disturbing trend.