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Gross National Happiness in Bhutan

Bhutan GNH

Officially referred to as the Kingdom of Bhutan and known as ‘Land of the Thunder Dragon’, Bhutan is a landlocked nation in South Asia that is located in the eastern side of the Himalayas. It borders china to the north, south and east, while it is bordered to the west by India. It also borders Nepal to the west. The country has made history as being the only country on earth that measures prosperity based on its citizens happiness level, commonly referred to as Gross National Happiness. The country has subsequently refused to use GDP as a measure of progress and it is currently on a mission to woo the world to have an overhaul of the entire approach to development. Here is everything that is worth knowing regarding the country’s GNH.

Origin of Gross National Happiness

In 1971, the government under the leadership of the then King of Bhutan-Jigme Singye Wangchuck – announced that it would no longer be using GDP for purposes of measuring development, but it will instead use a new approach known as the Gross National Happiness (GNH) index. The Government further cited the essence of GNH as the happiness and peace of the Bhutanese along with the country’s security and sovereignty. Proponents of GNH argue that sustainable development need to take a holistic approach towards aspects of progress and also give equal importance to all non-economic elements of well-being.

What is GNH?

GNH is a sustainable approach to development in order to balance between non-material and material values with the conviction that people across the world over are ever in pursuit of happiness. GNH’s concept comprises of four pillars namely

· Environmental protection

· Good governance

· Promotion and conservation of a vibrant culture

· Social-economic development (improved education and health)


These 4 pillars are further classified into nine domains namely

· Psychological well-being

· Health

· Education

· Culture

· Living standard

· Balanced time use

· Community vitality

· Good governance

· Ecological integration

Today, the country has developed 38 sub-indexes , 151 variables and 72 indicators that are in accordance with the nine domains of GNH .


GNH surveys

Every year, the government of Bhutan carries out a GNH survey in order to get data concerning the well being of Bhutanese people. GNH surveys are normally administered using GNH questionnaires.

Recent surveys particularly the ones conducted from 2010, 2012 and 2013 have revealed that on average, Bhutanese men are happier than their female counterparts.

· Based on the nine domains of GNH, Bhutanese boast of being the most sufficient in ecology, health community vitality and psychological well-being

· Majority of Bhutanese living in urban areas are happier than those living in rural areas

· Bhutanese in urban centers have access to better health, education and also have better living standards as compared to their counterparts in rural areas.

· The happiest people in Bhutan are the young and unmarried


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