Rather than focussing on Economic Growth, in the hope that it brings more posperity, does it not make more sense to focus direcly on the thing we want: well-being and happiness? It’s time to start using Gross National Happiness (GNH) instead of GDP.
“Gross National Product measures everything, except that which makes life worthwhile.” - Robert F. Kennedy
Almost every country in the world uses GDP – Gross Domestic Product – to measure its success and social progress. But does GDP really capture what is really important to us? Does it measure what really matters?
Rises in GDP over the last thirty-five years have not resulted in increased human well-being. Once we’ve reached a certain level of material stabilitiy and comfort, increases in income don’t make us any happier. What’s more, by focusing so narrowly on growing GDP, we’ve increased inequality between the rich and poor, and are causing irreparable damage to the natural environment on which we depend.
The Idea of Gross National Happiness originates from Bhutan, a tiny Buddhist Kingdom in the Himalayas. The King of Bhutan decided that Happiness of the people in Bhutan was more important than Economic Growth. So they developd the concept of Gross National Happiness as a guiding principle for the government policies. They measure progress using 33 indicators divided in nine core domains:
- Psychological well-being
- Time use
- Cultural diversity and resilience
- Good Governance
- Community Vitality
- Ecological diversity and resilience
- Living Standard
If you think that measuring happiness is a fluffly new-age concept you will be surprised. There is a lot of detailed information on their website: http://www.grossnationalhappiness.com
In the UK the New Economics Foundation (NEF) has a Centre for WellBeing and aims to get GNH introduced in the UK. They have a very good website: http://www.neweconomics.org/programmes/well-being
And it looks like the Government is slowly opening up to the idea. See this article from Positive News: http://positivenews.org.uk/2010/wellbeing/2533/government-to-measure-wellbeing/
The idea of Gross National Happiness is introduced in this short video:
Bhutan is the only country who have adopted GNH as a government policy.
Watch a good video about Bhutan by following the link below (opens in new window):