KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 24 — The latest official well-being index released today suggests Malaysians were not much happier in 2018 than the previous year, scoring an overall increase of just 0.8 per cent to 122.4 index points.
It was 121.4 index points in 2017, the year the Malaysian Well-being Index (MWI) made its debut as the official measure for national happiness.
The index looks at 14 main components seen as crucial to overall happiness to score. The components are divided into two main sub-composites — economic and social well-being.
While the scores for the two sub-composites rose, the improvements were small. Economic well-being rose just 0.7 per cent to 131.0 while social well-being increased 1.0 per cent to 117.7 compared to the previous year.
Five components form the economic sub-composite: transport, income and distribution, communications, education and working life.
The index suggested that Malaysians were generally better off in all aspects bar one. Very few said working life improved in 2018 than in 2017. The sub-composite index for working life rose just 0.5 per cent in 2018.
Other components saw a two-point average increase, with scores of between 130 to 134 points.
Under the social sub-composite, Malaysians were less content about the state of governance and health last year than in 2017. Index for the two components dropped three and one percentage points to 121.5 and 105.6 respectively.
The remaining markers — leisure, public safety, social participation, housing, environment, and family — registered improvements although marginal.
The highest scores were for security and social participation, which rose by two and three index points.
The MWI was introduced by the previous Barisan Nasional government in response to the growing reproach toward the use of conventional economic indicators to measure how well a population is doing.
Critics said measures like gross domestic products exclude social or economic markers crucial for effective development policies.