October 10, 2009
Why Is Bhutan So Happy?
Swaminathan S. Anklesaria Aiyar, Cato Institute
Back in 1972, Bhutan, a tiny Himalayan kingdom, proposed Gross National Happiness as a better indicator of well-being than Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Ever since, Bhutan has been a poster child for happiness. Its philosophy has influenced many international committees including one headed by Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz, which has just submitted its report on The Measurement of Economic Performance and Social Progress.
The Stiglitz report says that GDP is a poor measure of well-being, so countries should also measure quality-of-life indicators that make people happy, such as leisure, education, social relationships, political voice and governance. Happiness is, of course, much more than GDP. Yet Bhutan's dirty secret is that it is a world champion in GDP growth.