Monday, March 9, 2009
Gross National Happiness
A NEW LEARNING
Most countries define quality of life by the measure of GNP or Gross National Product. GNP is the total dollar value of all final goods and services produced for consumption in society during a particular time period (i.e. one quarter or one year). A more accurate gauge of health is the GDP Gross Domestic Product which takes into account not only income from goods and services but also cost of labour and property. Countries measure their GNP and GDP by comparing with other countries.
High in the Himalayan mountains is the country of Bhutan with 600,000 people who measure their progress as a nation by placing higher value on spiritual development. Assessing quality of life in more holistic and psychological terms they tag their measurement vehicle the GNH or Gross National Happiness. This term was conceived by the Bhutanese and officially embraced in 1972. Bhutan is the world’s youngest democracy and it held elections for the first time in March 2008. Notwithstanding this, Bhutan still has a monarch, having crowned its fifth king, 28 year old Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck on November 6, 2008. He succeeds his father King Jigme Singye Wangchuck to become the world’s youngest reigning monarch. The new king is an Oxford educated bachelor who has promised to maintain a protectionist posture against globalization’s most evil features. He will maintain the GNH coined by his father when bringing this unique culture based on Buddhist spiritual values into the age of modernization.
GNH value is proposed to be an index function of the total average per capita of the following measures:
1. Economic Wellness: Indicated via direct survey and statistical measurement of economic metrics such as consumer debt, average income to consumer price index ratio and income distribution
2. Environmental Wellness: Indicated via direct survey and statistical measurement of environmental metrics such as pollution, noise and traffic
3. Physical Wellness: Indicated via statistical measurement of physical health metrics such as severe illnesses
4. Mental Wellness: Indicated via direct survey and statistical measurement of mental health metrics such as usage of antidepressants and rise or decline of psychotherapy patients
5. Workplace Wellness: Indicated via direct survey and statistical measurement of labor metrics such as jobless claims, job change, workplace complaints and lawsuits
6. Social Wellness: Indicated via direct survey and statistical measurement of social metrics such as discrimination, safety, divorce rates, complaints of domestic conflicts and family lawsuits, public lawsuits, crime rates
7. Political Wellness: Indicated via direct survey and statistical measurement of political metrics such as the quality of local democracy, individual freedom, and foreign conflicts.
Can anything be learned by Canadians and Americans from Bhutan’s example?
Thanks to the Reuters News Service and Royal Government of Bhutan for its Handout