Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Bhutan's Gross National Happiness

Economists appraise Bhutan's 
happiness model

Thimphu, Bhutan -- In the thick of a global financial crisis, many economists have come to this Himalayan kingdom to study a unique economic policy called Gross National Happiness, based on Buddhist principles. When considering economic development, policymakers here take into account respect for all living things, nature, community participation and the need for balance between work, sleep and reflection or meditation.

'Happiness is very serious business,' Bhutan Prime Minister Jigme Thinley said. 'The dogma of limitless productivity and growth in a finite world is unsustainable and unfair for future generations.' ...

Gross National Happiness, or GNH, evolved over centuries in Bhutan but was launched formally in 1972... The former king shifted focus of development from productivity to human well being in four areas: sustainable economic development, preservation and promotion of cultural values, conservation of the environment, and good governance. Since then, government policy in Bhutan has been guided by GNH principles in a succession of five-year plans...

GNH guidelines are being adopted in Brazil, India and Haiti. But the most extensive programs are occurring in Canada, Australia, the United States and France... The Bhutanese government is devising a GNH index that is expected to be ready as early as the end of the year based on 72 standards.
Image source here.