Some basic information about Gross National Happiness
To know what I think about GNH, please see my publications.
Around the world, people are staring at Gross National Product
figures as a measure of societal well-being. Upon reflection, however,
it is easily seen that income figures capture only one, and a merely
instrumental, aspect of well-being, and that they often misrepresent
actual well-being. Nevertheless, Gross National Product figures continue
to dominate debates about development and economic policies, probably
because such figures give an illusion of precision and lend themselves
to exact quantitative analysis. Apparently, people prefer being
precisely wrong to being approximately right, as John Maynard Keynes once said. The logical alternative is
to look for other criteria or principles of development that are more to
the point, even if less precise.
In this sense,
the 4th King of Bhutan, Jigme Singye Wangchuck (1972-2006), coined the term "Gross
National Happiness" in the 1970s.
Basically, it expresses the simple idea that societal development should
serve people's well-being and that economic development is only
desirable to the degree it furthers this goal.
Since November 2008, Bhutan has officially adopted a quantitative GNH indicator. The index has been developed by the Centre for
which held several GNH conferences and collaborated with a number of
researchers from around the world to devise an entirely new indicator
that takes an innovative sufficiency perspective.