Happiness in the Midst of Change: A Human Development Approach to Studying GNH in the Context of Economic Development

Levenson, Michael L. ; Jennings, Patricia A. ; D'Mello, Michelle ; Le, Thao ; Aldwin, Carolyn M.

In: Proceedings of the First International Conference on Operationalization of Gross National Happiness. Centre for Bhutan Studies, Thimphu 2004, pp. 450-460 . ISBN 99936-14-22-X

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Contemporary theories of economic development have concentrated on socioeconomic and epidemiological indices of development to the exclusion of issues of psychological and spiritual development. Yet, economic development without attention to individual human development may produce increasing wealth but decreasing happiness. The construct of Gross National Happiness (GNH), as the real measure of success in a developmental endeavor, is intended to serve as a corrective to the exclusive concern with materialistic indices of development. Development has intangible as well as tangible aspects. No theory or measurement of development can be complete without both. Naturally, the assessment of the intangibles is more subtle and difficult. However, that does not render it impossible. The authors briefly address some of the tangible indices of development that must be considered crucial to GNH. Then, they survey some of the relationships between economic development and subjective well-being in economically developed societies and critique the contemporary psychological conceptualization of happiness as a rather narrow product of utilitarian philosophy. The authors contrast this theory with the Buddhist theory of happiness, showing the close relationship between happiness and wisdom. We will continue with an assessment of the kinds of psychological changes that typically accompany economic development, especially individualism, concluding with a measurement model that could be used to monitor change in individual well-being during a period of rapid economic growth.

Document type: Book Section
Version: Secondary publication
Date Deposited: 15 March 2010
ISBN: 99936-14-22-X
Faculties / Institutes: Research Organisations / Academies > Centre for Bhutan Studies
DDC-classification: Economics
Controlled Subjects: Bruttonationalglück, Wirtschaftsentwicklung, Wohlbefinden
Uncontrolled Keywords: Entwicklungskonzept, Gross National Happiness , Economic Development , Well-Being
Subject (classification): Economics