A Short Guide to GNH Index


Bhutan’s GNH Index is a multidimensional measure and it is linked with a set of policy and programme screening tools so that it has practical applications. The GNH index is built from data drawn from periodic surveys which are representative by district, gender, age, rural-urban residence, etc. Representative sampling allows its results to be decomposed at various sub-national levels, and such disaggregated information can be examined and understood more by organizations and citizens for their uses. In the GNH Index, unlike certain concepts of happiness in current western literature, happiness is itself multidimensional – not measured only by subjective well-being, and not focused narrowly on happiness that begins and ends with oneself and is concerned for and with oneself. The pursuit of happiness is collective, though it can be experienced deeply personally. Different people can be happy in spite of their disparate circumstances and the options for diversity must be wide.

The GNH Index is meant to orient the people and the nation towards happiness, primarily by improving the conditions of not- yet-happy people. We can break apart the GNH Index to see where unhappiness is arising from and for whom. For policy action, the GNH Index enables the government and others to increase GNH in two ways.