Skip to Content


Geography banner

Measuring wellbeingBookmark

Learning area: Geography
Year level: Year 10
Country: Bhutan, India
General capability: Intercultural understanding

This learning sequence examines how wellbeing is measured and the status of wellbeing in India and Bhutan. Students will gain insight into the complexity of determining wellbeing indices and the role they play when measuring economic development.

Key inquiry questions

  • What is meant by the term 'wellbeing' and how do we measure it?
  • How can we use wellbeing indicators to measure wellbeing in Mumbai, India?
  • What is the Gross National Happiness Index of Bhutan and how is it assessed?

Dharavi Slum in MumbaiDharavi Slum in Mumbai


Image:  Dharavi Slum in Mumbai.jpgKounosu (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Related resources

Activity 1: How do we measure wellbeing

In this activity, you will:

  • investigate how wellbeing is measured
  • examine wellbeing in the countries of Asia.

Key inquiry question: What is meant by the term 'wellbeing' and how do we measure it?

Define wellbeing

  1. Discuss what is meant by the term 'wellbeing' and write a shared definition for the term.
  2. Read the information about country wellbeing below and decide whether your definition matches what is written.

    Country wellbeing

    Wellbeing has been described as a state of contentment, of being healthy and prosperous. Others have linked it to happiness.

    Wellbeing can vary within and between countries. It is assessed using a variety of surveys and data collection which are then transferred onto a variety of maps and tables.

    Worldmapper uses a variety of data to express wellbeing across the world. This information is depicted in colour and transferred onto world maps and graphics to allow comparison between countries. The A‒Z index provides additional information. Use the link to experiment with the maps.

    The World Gallup Poll in 2010 gathered information from 1000 residents over the age of 15 from 150 countries. The poll used a wide range of questions about factors affecting their lives. It classified the respondents' wellbeing as 'thriving', 'struggling' or 'suffering' using a scale of 1 to 10 based on the Cantril Self-Anchoring Scale. A score of 7 or higher indicated a person who was thriving; a score of 5 or 6 pointed towards suffering; and a score of 4 or lower denoted they were struggling.

  3. Think about your own wellbeing. What are some of the indicators you personally use to say you are feeling well or not so well? Write them down then read the information above once more to see how country wellbeing can be measured. Review information about the Cantril Self-Anchoring Scale (on the right) and use the indicators to measure your current feelings of wellbeing.
  4. Read the Gallup article High Wellbeing Eludes the Masses in Most Countries World Wide and use the interactive map to scan wellbeing in the countries of Asia.
  5. Create a table with four columns entitled 'Wellbeing in the Asia region'. Add the headings, 'Country', 'Thriving', 'Struggling' and 'Suffering'. Use the interactive map and the table to rank the countries of Asia, including Australia.
  6. Write a brief description describing the state of wellbeing in the Asia region in 2010 and the reasons there is such a wide range of wellbeing.
  7. Discuss how accurate these descriptions are given the scale of the survey.
  8. World Mapper site. From the categories on the left-hand side of the home page select those that could be used as indicators of wellbeing. Explore each related map. Make comparisons about wellbeing between the countries of Asia.
  9. Discuss as a class which indicators provide a more complete picture of wellbeing.


Image: World happiness.pngKozuch (Public domain)

Activity 2: Wellbeing in the city of Mumbai

In this activity you will:

  • examine wellbeing in India with a particular focus on the city of Mumbai
  • use a number of indicators such as wealth, health and happiness.

Key inquiry question: How can we use wellbeing indicators to measure wellbeing in Mumbai, India?

Wellbeing indicators

  1. Discuss as a class what factors contribute to communities and countries having a high level of wellbeing. Record these and display them in the classroom.
  2. Read the information below about measuring wellbeing in India and use this, and the factors you have listed, to discuss whether the levels of wellbeing would be uniform across India.

    Measuring wellbeing in India

    The Republic of India is situated in South Asia. It is the world's largest democracy and has the second largest population of over 1.2 billion people. The Indian Ocean is located to the south, the Arabian Sea to the south-west, and the Bay of Bengal to the south-east. India shares land borders with Pakistan to the west, China, Nepal and Bhutan to the north-east, and Burma and Bangladesh to the east.

    The Indian economy is the world's tenth largest by nominal GDP (Gross Domestic Product) and it is considered a newly industrialised country with one of the largest middle classes in the world. However, it continues to face the challenges of poverty, illiteracy, malnutrition, inadequate public health care and other issues that face developing nations.

    In the 2010 Gallup Poll, India was ranked 71 in the world wellbeing survey. Read more about their ranking in the Economic Times.

    Another survey group, Ipsos, conducted a Ipsos: Who's Happy Now? in 24 countries around the world. India ranked second with Indonesia being the happiest nation. An interesting survey finding was that respondents did not feel that wealth automatically brought happiness. Read more about the findings and look at the graph comparing happiness with each country's GDP at Chilled out on The Economist website.

  3. Find the city of Mumbai on the map of India. Write down what you know about this city. Did you know, for example, that it has a thriving stock exchange and a film industry, Bollywood, that is larger than Hollywood?
  4. Read the information and view the images about Mumbai, the 'fourth-best city in India' (on the right). Think about the wellbeing level in this city and why it is considered to be the fourth best city to live in. Is this the case for all residents?
  5. Not all of Mumbai's communities are wealthy. Read more about the Dharavi slum area of Mumbai.
  6. Using this value statement: 'Happiness equates to high levels of wellbeing', create a media presentation to prove or disprove this statement using Mumbai and a city in Australia as examples. You will need to create a storyboard highlighting your key ideas and how you will represent each element visually. Some of your information is available in the resource Measuring wellbeing in India but you will also need to conduct additional research using the internet.
  7. Once completed share your presentations with the rest of the class.
  8. Conclude the activity by deciding as a class whether the presentations proved or disproved the statement and discuss the reasons for your decision.

Activity 3: Measuring happiness in Bhutan

In this activity you will investigate Bhutan's Gross National Happiness index.

Key inquiry question: What is the Gross National Happiness Index (GNH) of Bhutan and how is it assessed?

Indicators of gross national happiness

  1. Read about Bhutan's Gross National Happiness Index below and view the Gross National Happiness site.

    Gross National Happiness Index

    The GNH survey was developed by the Centre of Bhutan Studies and has 9 domains and 33 indicators. The domains are:

    • psychological wellbeing
    • health
    • education
    • culture
    • time use
    • good governance
    • community vitality
    • ecological diversity and resilience
    • living standards.

    These domains were identified because they are seen as a crucial part of the customs and culture of Bhutan; they have a robust quality and accurately reflect happiness for all people, from all regions of the country. Read more about the domains and indicators at Gross National Happiness.

    Wellbeing initiatives are part of everyday life in Bhutan; road signs and school programs focus on striving for happiness.

    The concept of GNH is now being taken more seriously with major conferences on economic development and wellbeing well attended by delegates across the world. Read more about The economics of happiness at Al Jazeera.

    Wellbeing for people and the state of the environment are of concern for many people. Many governments are adopting guiding principles for assessing wellbeing.

  2. Answer the following questions:
    • What is the GNH index?
    • When was it developed and by whom?
    • What are its domains and their indicators?
    • When is the survey conducted?
    • What does it take into account?
    • What is the purpose of the questionnaire?
    • How are wellbeing and happiness strategies implemented in schools and the community? Give examples.
    • How has the GNH spread across the world?
    • Have other countries now taken on the GNH index or a variation as a measure of economic development?
  3. As a class discuss your answers and the relevancy of the domains as a means of measuring wellbeing.
  4. Watch the videos on the Gross National Happiness site. You should focus on the videos that explain: the different domains, the process used to administer the wellbeing questionnaire and how the results are used to improve wellbeing.
  5. Discuss how effective you feel the GNH survey and its ensuing initiatives are as a guide for future development in Bhutan.
  6. Imagine you have been asked by the Australian government to go to Bhutan to investigate the GNH index and its possible use in Australia. Use the information you have gathered to write a persuasive report supporting the implementation of the index. Draft a structure for your report. Remember that most Australians won't know about the GNH index and will need to be informed of its purpose, structure and outcomes.
  7. Once you have completed your reports, discuss as a class how successful you think the implementation of the GNH index would be in Australia.

Activity 4: Reflection

To conclude this learning sequence you will reflect on how student wellbeing could be measured and assess the wellbeing of your year level at school.

Reflect on the information you have gathered in this activity.

  • Collate as a class an agreed set of wellbeing indicators. You may wish to use some of the domains used in Bhutan.
  • Create a survey using these indicators and the Cantril Self-Anchoring Scale.
  • Conduct the survey in your year level at school and collate the results as a column graph.
  • Use the results of the survey to develop a set of recommendations to improve wellbeing in your year level.

This learning sequence provides teachers with the opportunity to discuss with students how wellbeing can be measured, how India is currently faring against a number of wellbeing indicators and how Bhutan uses the National Gross Happiness index to measure development.

Activity 1: How do we measure wellbeing?

This activity explores the way that wellbeing is measured. It is important to flag with the students that there is a wide range of wellbeing indicators and there is currently a lot of discussion about the effectiveness of some measurement processes. It is also worth noting that levels of wellbeing can vary within a community and country.

Activity 2: Wellbeing in the city of Mumbai

In this activity students look at the level of wellbeing in India and then narrow their focus to look at the city of Mumbai. Part of the discussion should concentrate on the issue of slums in Mumbai and how wellbeing is measured. Wealth and health indicators will show a different measurement from happiness indicators. This debate will require the development of intercultural skills, especially approaching issues such as how happiness should be measured, with respect for cultural differences.

Activity 3: Measuring happiness in Bhutan

Students will use information gathered from the resource Bhutan and its 'Happiness indicator' and The Centre for Bhutan Studies site to create a persuasive report. The Centre's site provides very detailed information and it will be useful for students to look at each of the videos to access ideas for their report.

Activity 4: Reflection

Students will use the information they have gathered in this learning sequence to create a student wellbeing survey. It is important they use indicators that are relevant to school life as well as everyday life. Stress the importance of creating a survey that will accurately measure student wellbeing and can be used to create a set of recommendations to assist improved student morale.

Useful websites

It is recommended teachers preview websites to ensure they are suitable for their students prior to use in class. Content accessed via these links is not owned or controlled by Asia Education Foundation and is subject to the terms of use of the associated website.

The full resource can not be displayed on a mobile device.

back to top