JAKARTA - For the first time in history, the Central Statistics Agency (BPS) issued late on Wednesday a survey that measured the level of happiness among Indonesians.
The timing of the survey, which was conducted last year, could not have come at a worse time, as unemployment was high and poverty soared following the subsidized fuel price hike.
Nonetheless, the outcome was somewhat surprising; Indonesians, in general, are indeed "happy", according to the BPS.
Indonesia scored 65.11 per cent on a scale of 100 on the BPS' "Happiness Index", which measures happiness in relation to the growing level of equality in the country, according to BPS chairman Suryamin.
Suryamin said that the index score had been divided into four groups, which ranged from unhappy (0-25 per cent), not so happy (25-50 per cent), happy (50-75 per cent) and very happy (more than 75 per cent), with Indonesia falling under the third category.
"Five components were taken into consideration […] income; work status; assets; harmony in the family; security and environment," said Suryamin.
Additionally, Suryamin explained, the issues of education and income worried Indonesians the most, evidenced by lower scores, however, in terms of happy families, the scores were on the higher end of the scale.
BPS deputy of accounts and data analysis Kecuk Suhariyanto said that the survey had been developed to complement previous data regarding development.
"The happiness index is important […] because the level of happiness cannot be strictly gauged based on the performance of the economy," he said.
The economy grew by 5.78 per cent last year, lower than 6.23 per cent recorded in 2012 and 6.5 per cent in 2011, BPS data revealed.
According to the BPS, the number of poor people in September last year rose to 11.47 per cent, or 28.5 million from 11.37 per cent, or 28.07 million.
Kecuk also said that while the richest were getting rich quicker than the poorest of the poor, this did not necessarily guarantee the happiness of the wealthier group.
According to Kecuk, the index was also determined by three indicators: personal affairs, family and environment dimensions.
The survey used a sample of 9,500 people from across the archipelago.
The BPS expects the future administration to use the survey as a benchmark of its governing success as a lower happiness index would be evidence of failure.
The United Nations has formally recognised the pursuit of happiness as a fundamental human goal after it commissioned a similar survey with its results released last month. According to the survey, Scandinavian countries were the happiest, with Denmark topping the list, followed by Finland and Norway, and then the Netherlands.
In Southeast Asia, Cambodia ranked least happy, at 140th, just 16 places from the bottom of the list. The happiest are Singaporeans, ranked 30th, followed by Thailand, Malaysia (56), Vietnam (63), Indonesia (76), the Philippines (92), Laos (109) and Myanmar (121).
The results were based on a "life evaluation score", which combined a variety of factors, including health, family, job security, political freedom and government corruption.