Bhutan's Gross National Happiness Index

The phrase ‘gross national happiness’ was first coined by the 4th King of Bhutan, King Jigme Singye Wangchuck, in 1972 when he declared, “Gross National Happiness is more important than Gross Domestic Product.” The concept implies that sustainable development should take a holistic approach towards notions of progress and give equal importance to non-economic aspects of wellbeing. The king was awarded the Blue Planet Prize in the year 2022. This prize is awarded as a recognition of scientific research and its applicaitons that have helped to provide solution for global environmental problems.

Since then the idea of Gross National Happiness (GNH) has influenced Bhutan’s economic and social policy, and also captured the imagination of others far beyond its borders. In creating the Gross National Happiness Index, Bhutan sought to create a measurement tool that would be useful for policymaking and create policy incentives for the government, NGOs and businesses of Bhutan to increase GNH.

The GNH Index includes both traditional areas of socio-economic concern such as living standards, health and education and less traditional aspects of culture and psychological wellbeing. It is a holistic reflection of the general wellbeing of the Bhutanese population rather than a subjective psychological ranking of ‘happiness’ alone.

Construciton of the GNH Index

The GNH index includes nine domains.

  • Psychological wellbeing
  • Health
  • Education
  • Time use
  • Cultural diversity and resilience
  • Good governance
  • Community vitality
  • Ecological diversity and resilience
  • Living standards

There are 33 indicators in the 9 domains above and the Index seeks to measure the nation’s wellbeing directly by starting with each person’s achievements in each indicator. The GNH index is based on the Alkire-Foster method of multidimensional measurement, which has been adapted for this purpose. It identifies four groups of people – unhappy, narrowly happy, extensively happy, and deeply happy. The analysis explores the happiness people enjoy already, then focuses on how policies can increase happiness and sufficiency among the unhappy and narrowly happy people.

Primary Measures of the GNH Index

Add description of GNH

Add description of Headcount of happy people

Add description of sufficiency of not yet happy people

Suficiency in Indicators

Breif description on the uncensored and censored sufficiency in indicators.

Contribution of Indicators to GNH

Breif description on the contribution of indicatros to GNH.

Primary Measures of GNH

Headcount ratio of Happy
Average Sufficiency of Not-Yet-Happy

Sufficiency in Indicators

Contribution to indicators to GNH

Sub-national level comparison of primary measures of GNH

Sub-national level comparison of sufficiency in indicators

Sub-national level comparison of contribution of indicators