The GNH concept has inspired a modern political happiness movement. Through the contribution of several western and eastern scholars, economists and politicians, the concept evolved into a socioeconomic development model. In July 2011, the United Nations passed Resolution 65/309, that was adopted unanimously by the General Assembly in July 2011, placing "happiness" on the global development agenda.
The four pillars of GNH philosophy:
-Preservation and promotion of cultural values
-Conservation of the natural environment, and
-Establishment of good governance.
The GNH concept evolved through the contribution of international scholars and researchers to become a socioeconomic development framework. The GNH policy now serves as a unifying vision for Bhutan's five-year planning process and all the derived planning documents that guide the economic and development plans of the country. Proposed policies in Bhutan must pass a GNH review based on a GNH impact statement that is similar in nature to the Environmental Impact Statement required for development in the U.S.
Quantitative and qualitative indicators
While the Gross National Happiness was an inspirational philosophy, the implementation of a GNH policy was challenging in Bhutan due to the political transformation of the country and the overemphasis on the spiritual and cultural aspects of GNH over economic development. Like many psychological and social indicators, GNH is somewhat easier to state than to define with mathematical precision. For more than thirty years, the GNH concept struggled to be accepted by policy makers and economists outside Bhutan due the subjective nature of happiness, the lack of a policy implementation framework and economic measurement system.
Although there were few ad-hoc and independent surveys that attempted to measure the happiness or life satisfaction as a subjective score, up to 2005 there was no exact quantitative definition of GNH, but only some studies of individual elements that contribute to GNH are subject to quantitative measurement. For instance, low rates of infant mortality correlate positively with subjective expressions of well-being or happiness within a country. The practice of social science has long been directed toward transforming subjective expression of large numbers of people into meaningful quantitative data.
History and associated movement
In 1972, Bhutan's King introduced the Gross National Happiness (GNH) philosophy and its four development pillars at an international conference.
In 2005, Med Jones, the president of International Institute of Management, proposed a second generation GNH (GNH 2.0) also known as Gross National Well-being or GNW, the first GNW / GNH Index and the first Global GNW / GNH Index Survey. The proposal served as a blueprint for the later well-being development frameworks and happiness econometric models.
In 2006, the Genuine Progress Indicator was updated from a green measurement system to a broader concept that included quantitative measurement of well-being and happiness. The new measure is motivated by the philosophy of the GNH and the same notion of that subjective measures like well-being are more relevant and important than more objective measures like consumption. It is not measured directly, but only the factors which are believed to lead to it. In 2006, the International Institute of Management published a policy white paper calling for the implementation of GNH philosophy in the US and inviting scholars to build upon the GNW/ GNH Index framework.
In 2007, Thailand released Green and Happiness Index (GHI). In 2009 in the United States, the Gallup poll system launched the happiness survey collecting data on a national scale. The Gallup Well-Being Index was modeled after the GNH Index framework of 2005. The Well-Being Index score is an average of six sub-indexes that measures life evaluation, emotional health, work environment, physical health, healthy behaviors, and access to basic necessities. In October 2009, the USA scored 66.1/100. In 2010, the concept was taken seriously, as the Centre for Bhutan Studies developed a sophisticated survey instrument to measure the population's general level of well-being under the leadership of Karma Ura (ja). Two Canadians, Michael and Martha Pennock played a major role in developing the Bhutanese survey, which took a six- to seven-hour interview to complete. They developed a shorter international version of the survey which has been used in their home region of Victoria BC as well as in Brazil. The Pennocks also collaborated with Ura in the production of a policy lens which is used by the Bhutanese GNH Commission for anticipating the impact of policy initiatives upon the levels of GNH in Bhutan.
Later the same year, the Center for Bhutan Studies further defined the original four pillars with greater specificity into eight general contributors to happiness—physical, mental and spiritual health; time-balance; social and community vitality; cultural vitality; education; living standards; good governance; and ecological vitality. The Bhutan GNH Index. In 2010, The Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative OPHI at the University of Oxford in UK, launched the Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) for the United Nations Development Programme, (UNDP). Similar to the GNH Index of 2005, OPHI promotes collection and analysis of data on five dimensions including Quality of work, Empowerment, Physical safety, Ability to go about without shame, Psychological wellbeing. In 2011 UN General Assembly Resolution 65/309, titled "Happiness: towards a holistic approach to development".
In 2011, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) launched "Better Life Index" (BLI). In 2011 The United Nations released the World Happiness Report by Helliwell, John F., Richard Layard, and Jeffrey Sachs. In 2011 Canadian Index of Wellbeing Network (CIW Network) releases The Canadian Index of Wellbeing (CIW). In 2011, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz published an article suggesting that western GDP economics is an incomplete development model and called for the adoption of Bhutan's GNH philosophy and Jones' GNH Index in Israel.
In 2012, a report prepared for the US Congressman Hansen Clarke, R, Researchers Ben, Beachy and Juston Zorn, at John F. Kennedy School of Government in Harvard University, recommended that "the Congress should prescribe the broad parameters of new, carefully designed supplemental national indicators; it should launch a bipartisan commission of experts to address unresolved methodological issues, and include alternative indicators." They proposed that the government can use the survey results to see which well-being dimensions are least satisfied and which districts and demographic groups are most deficient, so as to allocate resources accordingly. The report list the Gross National Happiness Index and its seven measurement area as one of the main frameworks to consider.
In 2012, Peter T. Coleman, the director of the International Center for Cooperation and Conflict Resolution at Columbia University, suggested that Jones' GNH Index initiative could inform the Global Peace Index Initiative GPI. In 2012, South Korea launched Happiness Index citing the GNH Index framework. In 2012, the Government of Goa, India published a strategy for socioeconomic development citing the GNH Index as a model for measuring happiness.
In 2012, the city of Seattle in Washington, launched its own happiness index initiative, emphasizing measures similar to the GNH Index. In 2013, the Social Progress Index SPI was launched by Michael Porter. In 2014, the government of Dubai launched its localized Happiness Index to measure the public's contentment and satisfaction with different government services. Finally, in 2014, The United Kingdom launched its own well-being and happiness statistics.
At present, we are stealing the future, selling it in the present, and calling it GDP.—Paul Hawken
According to Daniel Kahneman, a Princeton University Economist, happiness can be measured using the day reconstruction method, which consists in recollecting memories of the previous working day by writing a short diary.
Adam Kramer, a psychologist from the University of Oregon, has developed a behavioral model of "Gross National Happiness" based on the use of positive and negative words in social network status updates, resulting in a quantitative GNH metric.
In a widely cited study, "A Global Projection of Subjective Well-being: A Challenge to Positive Psychology?" by Adrian G. White of the University of Leicester in 2007, Bhutan ranked eighth out of 178 countries in Subjective Well-Being. In fact, it is the only country in the top 20 "happiest" countries that has a very low GDP.
National happiness is also sometimes classified under empirically studied "National Happyism," and psychologists, Drs. Ed Diener and Robert Biswas-Diener, have researched and analyzed what could be described as technological elements and characteristics of happiness for both individuals and societies.