Gross National Happiness (GNH)

Coined by Bhutan’s King Jigme Singye Wangchuck, Gross National Happiness (GNH) measures actual well-being of a country’s citizens rather than consumption, accounting more fully for social, human and environmental realities. Its premise is that basic happiness can be measured since it pertains to quality of nutrition, housing, education, health care and community life. By contrast, the conventional concept of Gross National Product (GNP) measures only the sum total of material production and exchange in any country.

  1. Promotion of equitable and sustainable socio-economic development
  2. Preservation and promotion of cultural values
  3. Conservation of the natural environment
  4. Establishment of good governance.

At the GNH International Conference in 2004, participants adopted a declaration that said that the facilitation of GNH should be accompanied by “the development of indicators that address human physical and emotional well-being. They must be capable of use for self-evaluation, so that individuals and groups may gauge their progress in the attainment of happiness. In addition, indicators should facilitate full accountability, good governance, and socially constructive business practices, both in day-to-day life and in long-range policies and activities.”
http://www.grossinternationalhappiness.org

  • Bobby C

    Many discount the validity of GNH because it is hard to quantify and objectively measure happiness, as opposed to GDP which can be concretely recorded. Despite its criticisms, GNH has caught the eye of some of the world’s most recognizable leaders, including David Cameron and Nicholas Sarkozy. Both Sarkozy and Cameron announced plans to begin measuring GNH in both France and England. Sarkozy believes in GNH so much that two years ago he enlisted the help of Joseph Stiglitz and Amartya Sen, two Nobel prize-winning economists, to begin formulating how they could best calculate national happiness. Cameron announced plans in 2010 to have the first report on GNH in England complete in 2011.

    Cameron made a fascinating point in 2010when he stated that despite enormous growth in the average living standards in the U.S. and Britain in the last 50 years, the average happiness has not increased. His statement makes the practice of only measuring a country’s success by its GDP seem narrow and constricted. I truly wonder what the U.S.’s report on GNH would look like and what would happen if the government put as much emphasis on improving GNH as GDP.