The concept of GNH is attributed to the 4th King Jigme Singye Wangchuck. The term „Gross National Happiness” was coined in response to a question of a journalist concerning Bhutan’s Gross National Product. The King’s reply has since gained proverbial status:
„Gross National Happiness is more important than Gross National Product“
This idea has not only shaped the further development of Bhutan, but has gained wider international recognition. It is understood as a paradigm for an alternative socio-economic development and has spurred extensive research and numerous practical initiatives
Nonetheless, there also remain serious concerns, critizising that he focus on pursuit of happiness may rather be a distraction than a response to the real and urgent needs of the population.
GNH has been instituted 2008 as the goal of the government in the Constitution of Bhutan. It also became the foundation of Bhutan’s Five Year Development Plans.
Gross National Happiness (GNH) is seen as a multi-dimensional measure of a more holistic development and is based on four pillars:
The most important factors or conditions of happiness in the Bhutanese context are specified in 9 equally important domains:
By means of 33 key indicators grouped under the 9 domains, the level of happiness and wellbeing is regularly measured and quantified by a GNH Index.
The so-far third nationwide GNH-survey was carried out in 2015. Responses of 7,153 respondents between 15 to 96 years of age have been analysed. In 2015 more than 40 percent of the Bhutanese population described themselves as deeply or extensively happy.
The GNH Index and the findings of GNH surveys have been used to guide the formulation and monitoring of the Five Year Plans.