To Measure a Nation, GDP Is Out, Happiness Index Is In

At the UN this week, a new measure of national wealth, which confronts resources shortages and consumer societies, is being discussed at the High Level Meeting on Well-Being and Happiness. 

What's the Latest Development?


At the UN, an alternative way to measure the wealth of nations has been proposed at the High Level Meeting on Well-Being and Happiness. The nation of Bhutan organized the event to consider using a happiness index when it comes to quantifying a nation's success in place of GDP. "The new economic paradigm laid out by Bhutan Prime Minister Jigmi Thinley uses 'natural and social capital values to assess the true costs and gains of economic activity' and may hold the answer for avoiding conflict in the world's fastest developing region."

What's the Big Idea?

The premise of the happiness index is best captured in a remark made by economist Joseph Stiglitz: "Maximizing GDP is not the same as maximizing wellbeing." Developing economies, however, are rushing to exploit natural resources in order to grow the monetary value of their economies and give consumers more purchasing choices. "Unfortunately such commercialism flies in the face of a more holistic human development concept that has happiness and wellbeing at its core." Properly implementing sustainable development programs will depend on a fuller understanding of human wellbeing. 

Photo credit: shutterstock.com

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