Gross National Happiness: Development Philosophy of Bhutan
Economists the world over have argued that the key to happiness is obtaining and enjoying material development.
Bhutan however, adheres to a very different belief and advocates that amassing material wealth does not necessarily
lead to happiness. Bhutan is now trying to measure progress not by the popular idea of Gross Domestic Product but
by through Gross National Happiness.
His Majesty the third Druk Gyalpo Jigme Dorji Wangchuck expressed his view on the goals of development as
making “the people prosperous and happy.” With this strong view in mind, the importance of “prosperity and
happiness,” was highlighted in the King’s address on the occasion of Bhutan’s admission to the United Nations in
While the emphasis is placed on both, prosperity and happiness, the latter is considered to be more significant. The
fourth Druk Gyalpo emphasized that for Bhutan “Gross National Happiness,” is more important than “Gross
National Product.” Thus, Gross National Happiness is now being fleshed out by a wide range of professionals.
Druk Gyalpo Jigme Singye Wangchuck said that the rich are not always happy while the happy generally considered
themselves rich. While conventional development models stressed on economic growth as the ultimate objective, the
concept of Gross National Happiness is based on the premise that true development of human society takes place
when material and spiritual development occur side by side to complement and reinforce each other.
The philosophy of Gross National Happiness has recently received international recognition and the UN has
implemented a resolution “…recognizing that the gross domestic product […] does not adequately reflect the
happiness and well-being of people,” and that “…the pursuit of happiness is a fundamental human goal”.