Bhutan to Measure Happiness

Tiny nation calculates its Gross National Happiness
By Katherine Thompson,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 22, 2008 10:31 AM CDT
Druk Phuentsum Tshogpa party candidate from south Thimphu, Yishey Zimba, right, shakes hand with voters during door to door election campaign in Thimphu, Bhutan, March 20, 2008.    (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – The king of Bhutan decided 20 years ago to start measuring his people's well-being—dubbed Gross National Happiness—but he never quite figured out how to quantify the national mood. With the Bhutan's first democratic election on Monday, and modernization transforming the long-isolated country, a commission has been charged with devising with the first GHI index, the Wall Street Journal reports.

A survey comprised of 300 questions has been administered to 1,000 households, which the Journal notes is an ample sample in a country with 750,000 citizens and, incidentally, no traffic lights. The king's own formula for happiness has been a combination of cultural tradition and a respect for the natural world, values that prompted decrees that Bhutanese robes must be worn in all government buildings and that 60% of the country must remain covered by forests.