Gross National Happiness Redux

We’ve written about Bhutan’s Gross National Happiness before, but now that the new policy has been in place in a while, it’s a good time to revisit the topic.

First, Bhutan has very nicely posted all their research online.

Second, the good news is that Bhutan’s research is being applied elsewhere, within the rubric of the burgeoning happiness studies.

Studies of life satisfaction around the world are now enhanced by regular polling in many countries using a broad range of questions, and have led to consistent findings in recent years that the highest levels of satisfaction are found in such northern European countries as Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands and Sweden—countries with a strong sense of social solidarity and attention to work-life balance, small income gaps, and—contrary to the thinking of American conservatives—high taxation rates.

These studies find that many relatively income-poor nations, such as Costa Rica and Colombia, also have high rates of life satisfaction, leading one group of British researchers to establish a “Happy Planet Index,” dividing life satisfaction scores by ecological footprints. They find that many so-called developing countries actually rank at the top of their index.

Read more at Worldchanging

Gross National Happiness

Another cool thing about Bhutan is that they measure their well being using GNH opposed to GDP or GNP.

Gross National Happiness (GNH) is an attempt to define quality of life in more holistic and psychological terms than Gross National Product.
The term was coined by Bhutan’s former King Jigme Singye Wangchuck in 1972 soon after the demise of his father King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk who has opened up Bhutan to the age of modernization. It signaled his commitment to building an economy that would serve Bhutan’s unique culture based on Buddhist spiritual values. Like many moral goals, it is somewhat easier to state than to define. Nonetheless, it serves as a unifying vision for the Five Year planning process and all the derived planning documents that guide the economic and development plans of the country.
While conventional development models stress economic growth as the ultimate objective, the concept of GNH claims to be based on the premise that true development of human society takes place when material and spiritual development occur side by side to complement and reinforce each other. The four pillars of GNH are the promotion of equitable and sustainable socio-economic development, preservation and promotion of cultural values, conservation of the natural environment, and establishment of good governance.

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