Academic journal article Austrian Journal of South - East Asian Studies

Exploring Leisure Time Activities and Sociodemographic Indicators of Subjective Happiness and Self-Perceived Health among Filipinos

Academic journal article Austrian Journal of South - East Asian Studies

Exploring Leisure Time Activities and Sociodemographic Indicators of Subjective Happiness and Self-Perceived Health among Filipinos

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

The progress and development of countries often focus primarily on the results of economic activities measured by market growth, gross domestic product (GDP), per capita income, purchasing power parity, employment, price stability, poverty incidence, and similar indicators. There has been, however, an observed disparity between the economic indicators and personal perceptions of well-being, giving rise to an increasing global trend toward the measurement of happiness or subjective well-being. Thus, rather than emphasizing purely economic growth, attention is now also directed toward the happiness of citizens, prompting various governmental agencies, international organizations, and private institutions to develop myriad ways of measuring indicators of well-being and societal progress (Boarini, Kolev, & McGregor, 2014; Domingo, 2014).

International longitudinal social surveys such as the World Values Survey (WVS) have shown that, for the past two decades, happiness had increased in 45 of the 52 countries where long-term data have been collected. The WVS observes that "since 1981 economic development, democratization, and rising social tolerance had risen to the extent to which people perceive that they have free choice, which in turn has led to higher levels of happiness around the world" (World Values Survey Association, 2016). Similar to some other developing countries, the Philippines can be considered as a case wherein the economic situation of the country and a relatively high perception of happiness by its people may be incongruent, as the country demonstrates a relatively low economic performance. Being among the bottom half of countries in the world in terms of GDP for the past two decades, the Philippines was ranked 119 out of 187 countries in the International Monetary Fund Report 2014 and 118 out of 185 countries by the World Bank in 2013 (The World Bank, 2016). Despite this rather cheerless economic situation, happiness and life satisfaction in the Philippines have been found to be relatively high in several international studies. In fact, Filipinos are considered to be among the world's happiest citizens according to the recent Gallup Poll's Positive Experience Index that was conducted in 143 countries, with the Philippines ranking fifth (Clifton, 2015). The Happy Planet Index (Abdallah, Michaelson, Shah, Stoll, & Marks, 2012), which measures human well-being and environmental impact, designed to challenge established indices of national development, such as GDP and the Human Development Index (HDI), ranks the Philippines among the upper quartile for all three of its reports over the recent decade. Using aggregate data from the WVS in 2005 on the question of overall happiness, the website NationMaster.com ranks the Philippines 12 out of 50. Even a decade ago, in a study of 90 countries (Veenhoven, 2004), the Philippines ranked 32 in terms of life satisfaction. As a result, the Philippines' National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB) has considered developing its own Happiness Index. It aims to take into account happiness in combination with conventional economic indicators to come up with a more appropriate measure of the progress of Filipino society. Though its guiding principle is the fact that economic progress and happiness are not synonymous, these concepts are not entirely mutually exclusive concepts (Virola, Encarnacion, & Pascasio, 2011, p. 4986). Thus, with these recent institutional developments and an emphasis on measuring the well-being of people, the study of the determinants of happiness or subjective well-being becomes ever more relevant for those working toward not only understanding, but possibly also improving the quality of life in a more integrated approach. Leisure and health are two aspects that have been considered in various studies on subjective well-being conducted in different countries (Brajsa-Zganec, Merkas, & Sverko, 2011; Hribernik & Mussap, 2010; Rossi, Ateca, Gerstenbluth, & Mussio, 2014). …

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