Bhutan to Measure Happiness

Tiny nation calculates its Gross National Happiness
By Katherine Thompson,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 22, 2008 10:31 AM CDT
Bhutan to Measure Happiness
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)

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. (More Bhutan stories.)

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