Bhutan builds “happiness” into the center of its development strategy

Not all countries measure their success in terms of gross national product. This article, titled “A Wealth of Happiness” from The Wall Street Journal describes an alternative:

Despite Bhutan being among the poorest nations in the world, almost all of its scholarship students studying overseas return home after graduation. One reason they cite: The Bhutanese government has not only pushed forward with improvements in health care, education and the environment, it has also actively pursued the more elusive goal of promoting its nation’s happiness.

A few years ago, the government threw out the usual indicators measuring progress, replacing them instead with an innovative model — called “gross national happiness” — that now has researchers and think-tank agencies around the world taking note. While GNH isn’t something that can be charted or ranked, Bhutan’s concept embraces everything from protecting natural resources to promoting a strong national culture and ensuring democratic governance — goals that help create a foundation of happiness for citizens.

“Bhutan is a very rare example, probably the only example in the world, of a country that has built happiness into the center of its development strategy,” says Ron Coleman, director of GPI Atlantic, a Canadian nonprofit research organization that studies the quality of life. “They are sacrificing short-term income for long-term social health.”


By Camille Armantrout

Camille lives with her soul mate Bob in the back woods of central North Carolina where she hikes, gardens, cooks, and writes.

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