76.5% of Penangites happy, says think tank survey on happiness index


THE Penang Institute has revealed that approximately 76.5% of Penangites consider themselves happy under its latest happiness index.


The Happiness in Penang (HIP) Index 2020/2021 is a survey carried out by the state think tank every two to three years to measure the wellbeing of the people of Penang.

Happiness in Penang (HIP) Index 2020/2021

The survey, which is the first of its kind in the state, involved 3,011 respondents that took place from October 2020 until April 2021.


The data collected from the survey focusing on the sentiments and life satisfaction of Penang citizens. The results were then used for calculating the HIP Index.


Penang Institute chief operating officer Ong Siou Woon said the entire survey was done by senior analysts under Penang Institute’s Socio Economics and Statistics programme, namely Yeong Pey Jung and Dr Negin Vaghefi.

Penang Institute chief operating officer Ong Siou Woon

Dr Negin said the HIP Index comprises four domains, namely Freedom and Governance, Economic Wellbeing, Environmental Sustainability, Liveability and Social Wellbeing.

From left: Dr Negin Vaghefi, Yeong Pey Jung and Ong Siou Woon during the presentation session of the survey.

She said each domain also has its own indicators.


“For the domain of Freedom and Governance, the indicators are political freedom, community and civic participation, religious/cultural/spiritual freedom, freedom of speech, fundamentals human rights and governance.


“Economic Wellbeing domain consists of income and salaries, household expenditure, financial security, asset ownership, employment opportunities, social and economic mobility.


“Meanwhile for Environmental Sustainability, the indicators are environmental conservation, environmental issues and awareness, environmental policies and eco-friendly behaviours.


“Lastly for Liveability and Social Wellbeing, the indicators are housing, family and community wellbeing, culture and heritage, safety and security, cleanliness, urban connectivity, digital connectivity, health, wellbeing and quality of life,” said Dr Negin during the report presentation of HIP Index at Penang Institute today.


According to Dr Negin, while 76.5% of Penang citizens consider themselves happy, the remaining 23.5% are seen as not-yet-happy.


“Of the not-yet-happy people, 13.5% are narrowly happy while nearly 10% are unhappy.


“To break it down per domain, for Freedom and Governance, about 78.2% of people in Penang are happy. The remaining 8.6% are narrowly happy and 13.2% are unhappy.

“However, the percentage is higher for the domain of Economic Wellbeing, with 79.1% respondents identified as happy, 11.5% narrowly happy and 9.4% are unhappy.


“Meanwhile, the domain of Environmental Sustainability saw the lowest percentage of happiness, at 76.1%, 14.6% narrowly happy and 9.3% unhappy.


“And the highest percentage goes to the domain of Liveability and Social Wellbeing that recorded 79.3%, 7.7% narrowly happy and 13.0% unhappy.


“Each domain and its respective indicators also make different contributions to the overall happiness of Penangites, illustrating that happiness, satisfaction and sufficiency are subjective to each individual, and not clearly based on material factors alone.


“In that sense, the HIP Index provides a nuanced picture and reflects experienced life satisfaction in Penang,” she added.


Ong said the HIP Index would be used for comparison with future similar surveys to be carried out by Penang Institute.


“The next survey in this series will begin in the first quarter of next year.


“Meanwhile, the final report, including the details on the HIP Index, will be made available in December next month on the Penang Institute website.


“However, the public can view the booklet about the report at https://penanginstitute.org/publications/reports-and-papers/reports/happiness-in-penang-index/ ,” she added.

Story and pix by Riadz Akmal