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MARK AUSTIN THOMAS: When you look at a nation's economy you focus on certain key indicators. China is planning a new one that promises to be a lot of fun. It's called the "happiness index." Jocelyn Ford has more.

JOCELYN FORD: China's statisticians want to know whether people are satisfied with their lives.So this year the government will start asking citizens how they feel about their income, social services and the environment.

Hong Kong-based Economic Consultant Robert Broadfoot thinks he already knows what the results will be.

ROBERT BROADFOOT:"I guarantee that you that China is going to officially be one happy country. Can you see someone saying I'm not happy and pulling down that index? That could be hazardous to your health!"

China has long had problems collecting accurate economic statistics because local officials' salaries are linked to economic growth.

China's been trying to improve its accuracy.

For example, it no longer allows local governments to publish their own GDP statistics, because in the past, added up, they would come out several points higher than the official national GDP.

In Beijing, I'm Jocelyn Ford for Marketplace.