Stiglitz is flying to Bhutan, wants America to follow Bhutan’s ‘happiness’ way

Combo of two portraits shows Joseph Stiglitz, ...

Image by AFP/Getty Images via Daylife

Joseph Stiglitz, Nobel winner and a staunch critic of Gross Domestic Product,  is planning to take a short break from his teaching assignment at the Columbia University and will fly to Bhutan, he has revealed in an interview.

Last year, he advised the French President Nicolas Sarkozy on better alternatives to GDP to measure well-being. His ideas, mostly, were already being tested in Bhutan which is attempting to measure the happiness of its citizens.

Bhutan’s development philosophy of Gross National Happiness is based on four pillars, sustainable development, preservation of culture and tradition, conservation of environment, and good governance. These pillars are further  broken down into 72 indicators, including suicidal tendencies or jealousy.

All government programs will be formulated on GNH ideals and will evaluate whether they would make the beneficiary happy.  For example, the GNH touchstone will be applied to test if a plan to construct  a road to the village will make the villagers happy. If the villagers feel that the road project will affect a spring water source on which they depend, then the project will be reconsidered.

Stiglitz, who has already been to Bhutan once, said that  in the United States, ‘some special interests’ do not want to measure environmental degradation as part of an economic index.

When a reporter from the Oregon Business News asked the economist if the US can follow Gross National Happiness, he replied that despite opposition,  he has been pushing  for a broader measure of GDP.

“I think it will happen,” he said.

In this YouTube video, Stiglitz is talking about alternatives to GDP.



5 thoughts on “Stiglitz is flying to Bhutan, wants America to follow Bhutan’s ‘happiness’ way

  1. Pingback: Writing for True/Slant from the Himalayas - Aby Tharakan - Gross National Happiness - True/Slant

  2. Thank you for this post, Aby. I think Prof. Stiglitz has his work cut out for him, as they say. The Declaration of Independence also declares that Americans have the right to *pursue* happiness, which we do primarily by buying stuff, but not to *obtain* happiness, which would be devastating for the economy.

    • What you said about the right to ‘pursue’ happiness is interesting. Backed by the evangelical right’s idea of prosperity theology, happiness has always been equated with buying. Infact, ‘pursue’ can be interpreted in a Buddhist manner, as in a holistic search for what happiness means.

  3. Good luck with this Aby. Having recently been in Bhutan, I came away feeling close to the country, a feeling I’ve never experienced anywhere else. A real feeling of kinship.

    I remember feeling very impressed when I heard that the Queen had made an ‘address to the nation’ when they got internet in 1999 reassuring them and warning them not to be too alarmed at the content they would see.

    Bhutan, seems to me, to be a country which is sincerely interested in making sure the people who live there are safe and happy.

    Other world leaders should be beating a path to its door.

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