Gross national happiness (GNH) or gross domestic product (GDP), what determines a nation’s development better?

Here are both the sides of the coin via our ED Original: FlippED.

Before moving on, FlippED is An ED Original Style wherein two bloggers come together to share their opposing or orthogonal perspectives on an interesting subject.

Gross National Happiness can determine a nation’s development far better than GDP, nationwide surveys can easily quantify happiness. ~

Blogger Yogita Rathore’s perspective


The very fact that happiness differs from person to person and further across nations itself says how it can be a better measure to assess a nation’s development. Now, happiness can be quantified just like it is done in Bhutan’s gross national happiness model.

All that is needed is preparation of a comprehensive questionnaire and then survey conducted across the nation. Now, this model doesn’t essentially negate the GDP system. It just gives a holistic approach to the pre-existing GDP model by adding factors to determine the happiness quotient of the country.

Think about it this way that knowing a country’s GDP only talks about net economic condition of the country. Nowhere does it specify that people in the country are leading a happy-fulfilling life. GDH model not only incorporates the GDP model but also tries to get a better view at the progress of a country.

People or the ‘human resource’ in economic terms, plays the most crucial role in the development of all the 3 sectors of industrialisation i.e. primary, secondary and tertiary. If the welfare of the human resource isn’t prioritised, then the government loses its value in the eyes of the people.

Moreover, happiness of the people leads to more productive employees, thereby building a more coherent state. And this is what ultimately leads to productivity among all sectors. Not to forget the entire idea of progress is inherently based on this very productivity.

Non-motivated unhappy people cannot contribute to a nation’s development. The GDP might paint a rosy picture in the shorter run. But in the longer run, the development of the nation shows a negative slope if the people aren’t happy doing what they do.

Also, most countries today are democratic in nature. Even the third world countries are of the democratic. In such an environment it becomes pertinent to provide social welfare and administrative stability before anything in order to ensure that the citizens are able to work better.

Lastly, GNH index/model takes into account the environmental degradation that the country is causing and keep a check on the carbon footprint of the nation. In today’s scenario where we are depleting all renewable resources & global warming is on an all time high, it becomes essential to employ an approach which keeps environment protection as a priority during the process of development.

Now, all these factors of holistic development, in the long run, are what help gross national happiness determine a nation’s progress better than GDP.

GDP of a nation calculated on an annual basis might paint a flowery image of the development of the country for that period but in the longer run, it’s the GNH model that helps determine the development of a nation better.

Also, read: Madhya Pradesh Government Introduces The Department Of Happiness: A Step Towards Ache Din

When you find a way to quantify happiness, perhaps I’ll support Gross Domestic Happiness like Bhutan does. ~

Blogger Sahib Singh’s perspective


The mere fact that happiness stands as an intrinsic emotion and can vary subjectively on 2 paradigms (person-to-person and nation-to-nation) is what makes it a problematic metric to calculate a nation’s progress.

The GNH vs GDP debate can be ended by the simple fact that assessment of progress essentially requires a quantifiable metric, something with GNH doesn’t provide.

Secondly, the difference it exhibits in a pan-Indian (or 3rd world) setting (where people are essentially happy by doing the bare minimum) compared to a Western setting (where the primary goal of progress is striving for more on a civil as well as infrastructural level) is strikingly contrasting, which is why GNH has only been implemented by only one country: Bhutan.

Why is it that a country which alienated a part of its own population via the ethnic cleansing of the Lhotshampa community, introducing a concept which works on social constructs which include conservation and promotion of culture? Hypocritical, isn’t it?

Talking about GDP, not only does GDP give a metric to stand as a means of comparison, it details that metric to be calculated by various methods such as calculation of GDP via the income method, the production method and the expenditure method, taking into account different variables to analyse a nation’s economic progress and performance via a monetary value.

We also have the GDP-PPP metric at our disposal (Purchasing Power Parity) which essentially deals with measuring the standard of living of a country’s population by taking into account the final value of all goods and services produced in a year and dividing it by the average population of that year (of a particular country).

Once we juxtapose it to the people of Bhutan, who essentially have a poor standard of living, the idea of doing the bare minimum and yet still being happy which I mentioned in the 3rd paragraph of my line of argumentation comes to play and that’s what makes the GNH vs GDP debate, rather one-sided.

And on a layman, logical level, it’s fairly obvious that the pursuit of a better standard of living and a better quality of life in the 21st century is driven by economic prowess, something which comes when you work hard, earn money, add value to your family and the state (via taxes) which results in your growth as well as the nation’s.

And that growth automatically leads to happiness and needless to say, a better GDP which can be quantified and calculated.

Picture credits: Google Images

Sources: The Guardian, Wikipedia, Tech vs Human + more

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