One entry in the notes for the recent Civilization V Fall Patch explicitly distinguishes “local” from “global” happiness:
Follower and Pantheon beliefs provide Local Happiness; Founder beliefs provide Global Happiness.
At first this mystified me since Civ5 had replaced Civ4’s per-city happiness with purely global happiness effects. But then people pointed out that some happiness production is capped by the local city population, and I recalled an older patch (version 126.96.36.199 from late 2010) which had introduced this limitation:
Buildings can now no longer provide more Happiness than there is population in a city (wonders are excluded from this).
This change targeted a popular exploit. Each new city carries a global happiness penalty to discourage early and reckless “city spamming.” However, players would avoid that penalty by placing just one or two happiness buildings in cities that were artificially kept at a low population. Large empires now provided not just more gold and science than smaller ones, but more happiness as well – the opposite of the intended outcome.
So what the patch notes call “Local Happiness” simply means any happiness production that is capped to the local city population before contributing to the empire’s global happiness.
Viewing Local Happiness
Civ5 does show the happiness and unhappiness contribution from each city, but not on the city screen where you might expect it. Rather, you must do the following:
- Open the “Additional Information” menu, the scroll icon in the top right corner.
- Bring up the “Economic Overview” and switch to the “Resources & Happiness” tab.
- Click “+Local City Happiness” in the “Happiness” column to show each city’s current local happiness contribution (which is capped to its population).
- Click “+City Breakdown” in the “Unhappiness” column to show each city’s current unhappiness contribution.
(Added happiness explanation to Civilization V Manual Addenda.)