Happiness and Criminal Victimization: A Study of Relationship and Restoration

AuthorG. S. Bajpai,Preetika Sharma
Published date01 April 2021
Date01 April 2021
Subject MatterEditorial
Happiness and Criminal
Victimization: A Study
of Relationship and
G. S. Bajpai1 and Preetika Sharma2
Even well-developed nations with the highest economic growth rates have failed
to bring happiness amongst their citizens. Consequently, recent studies have
shifted their focus from economic variables, such as Human Development Index
(HDI), gross development product (GDP) per capita, etc., to happiness as an
indicator of growth, development and social progress. Amidst others, criminal
victimization is one of the important indicators of happiness. The present article
intends to study the relationship between happiness using the happiness meas-
urement index and criminal victimization using the crime statistics of selected
nations. It consists of a descriptive statistical analysis of six nations selected based
on their happiness score, including two nations each with a high, average and low
happiness measurement index. The results show that people living in nations with
high crime rates were less happy and satisfied than individuals living in nations
with comparatively lower crime rates. However, the article could not conclusively
establish the relation between the happiness level and the nature of crime.
Happiness, criminal victimization, fear of crime, Gross National Happiness
Happiness has come to be recognized as a critical component of how the world
measures its economic and social development.3 Recent research has confirmed
Journal of Victimology
and Victim Justice
4(1) 7–32, 2021
2021 Rajiv Gandhi National
University of Law
Reprints and permissions:
DOI: 10.1177/25166069211013588
1 Rajiv Gandhi National University of Law (RGNUL), Punjab, India.
2 University of Petroleum and Energy Studies, Dehradun, Uttarakhand, India.
3 J. Fox, The Economics of Well-Being, Harv. Bus. rev. (Jan.–Feb. 2012), https://hbr.org/2012/01/
Corresponding author:
G. S. Bajpai, Rajiv Gandhi National University of Law (RGNUL), Punjab, India.
E-mail: gsbajpai@gmail.com
8 Journal of Victimology and Victim Justice 4(1)
that no single dimensional growth of any nation can ensure the happiness of its
citizens. For instance, the United States, despite achieving striking economic and
technological progress over the past half a century, has been unable to achieve a
high level of self-reported happiness of the citizens.4 Instead, economic inequalities
have widened considerably, social trust has declined, and confidence in the
government is at an all-time low.5 This clearly indicates that even exponential rise
in gross national product (GNP) per capita has been unable to ensure rise in life
satisfaction and happiness levels amongst the people of the Unites States.
Similarly, most technologically advanced countries, including South Korea,
Germany and China, have also failed to gain high levels of happiness.6 The World
Happiness Reports have underlined that happiness levels of people are the product
of a variety of factors, and nations score distinctly on this, depending on the
factors involved.7 Thus, it is imperative to consider all the factors forming
components of happiness simultaneously to raise the quality of life and happiness
level of people around the world.
Bhutan’s Gross National Happiness (GNH) index identifies the multidimensional
measure of happiness distinct from the Western conceptualization of happiness
that remains restricted to the subjective well-being of an individual or citizens of
a nation. Even though pursuit of happiness can be experienced and deeply felt
personally, GNH can be more appropriately linked with a set of policy and
programme screening tools for its wider use. The GNH index provides an overview
of performance across nine domains, including psychological well-being, time
use, community vitality, cultural diversity, ecological resilience, living standards,
health, education and governance. The domains further identify 33 clustered
indicators, with multiple variables associated with each indicator, constituting
124 variables in total. The weightage of each variable differs depending on its
subjectivity, that is, highly subjective variables carry less weightage in comparison
to less subjective variables. The nine domains, along with the associated indicators
and variables, articulate the elements of GNH more fully and form the basis of the
GNH index. With these efforts of Bhutan to consider GNH as more important than
gross domestic product (GDP) as a measure of quality of life, research on
happiness has gained momentum over the past few decades. Ristanovic8 argued
that happiness, being considered as a subjective perception of well-being, is also
gaining importance in criminology research.
Criminal victimization is nowadays considered as one of the major factors
having a direct and immediate impact on the happiness level of any person.
4 United Nations Development Programme, Human Development Report 2019: Beyond Income,
Beyond Averages, Beyond Today: Inequalities in Human Development in the 21st Century, 2019.
5 J. Helliwell, et al., World Happiness Report, 2012, https://worldhappiness.report/ed/2012/
6 F. Martela, et al., The Nordic Exceptionalism: What Explains Why the Nordic Countries Are
Constantly Among the Happiest in the World (2020), https://worldhappiness.report/ed/2020/the-
7 Helliwell et al., supra note 5.
8 V.N. Ristanovic, Making People Happy is the Best Crime Prevention: Towards Happy-making
Criminology, 11(4) eur. J. Criminol. 401–409 (2014).

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