The Politics of Happiness

In this article last year I mentioned that the tiny Himalayan country of Bhutan pioneered the measurement of well-being with its Gross National Happiness index.

Now Bhutan is in the news again because tomorrow it will hold its first-ever democratic elections. This could be seen as a test of how serious the two main political parties and their supporters are about happiness, or whether, when they have the opportunity, they put economic growth first.

The head of Bhutan’s planning commission suggests that happiness and economic growth are not incompatible, but nevertheless, observers are right to acknowledge that economic growth will have consequences, not all of them positive. But perhaps the Bhutanese know enough about well-being to be wise to the negative effects of materialism.

Whatever the result of the elections, it will be interesting to watch how democracy unfolds in Bhutan in the next few weeks and months.

Image: Babasteve

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