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Have You Ever Heard of “Gross National Happiness”?

Have you ever heard of Gross National Happiness? If you have not, it is completely fine, because it is a philosophy that has been guiding the government of Bhutan. Among many things, it includes an index that measures the happiness and well-being of the entire population of Bhutan. Ever since its enactment on July 18th 2008, it has been Bhutan’s government goal to make the index number rise.

The term Gross National Happiness itself was considered new, as it was first coined in 1979 during an interview with the King of Bhutan back then, King Jingme Singye Wangchuck. That king said to the journalist for the Financial Times that “Gross National Happiness is more important than Gross National Product”, which implies that the concept has already been in motion since the 70s.

The idea of Gross National Happiness eventually made its way to the United Nation General Assembly. In 2011, they passed the Resolution in which members of the nations should follow the footsteps of Bhutan and start measuring the happiness of their countrymen, and even go so far to call happiness as a fundamental human goal. This Resolution would be called “Happiness: towards a holistic approach to development.”

How can we count the Gross National Happiness?

In order to construct the Gross National Happiness, Bhutan includes 9 domains that they could gauge the happiness of their people with, and those are:

  1. Psychological Well Being
  2. Health
  3. Education
  4. Time Use
  5. Cultural Diversity & Resilience
  6. Good Governance
  7. Community Vitality
  8. Ecological Diversity & Resilience
  9. Living Standards

In 2011, there were at least 33 indicators in the 9 domains above. The index will then measure the wellbeing of the nation directly, by ranking each and everyone’s achievements in each indicator. The Gross National Happiness index will identify 4 groups of people: unhappy, narrowly happy, extensively happy, and deeply happy. It will also explore the happiness that are already enjoyed by the people, and then it will focus on what policies they can make or adjust to increase the happiness among the unhappy and narrowly happy people.

Gross National Happiness in Indonesia

The Gross National Happiness in Indonesia is a little bit different, as told by the head of Badan  Pusat Statistik, K. Suhariyanto in 2017. In Indonesia, there are 3 dimensions that construct Indonesia’s index, and those are:

  1. Life Satisfaction
  2. Affection
  3. Eudaimonia (the meaning of life)

Each of them also has different weights to weigh in on the index. Life satisfaction made up the 34,8%, Affection made up the 31,18%, and Eudaimonia made up the last 34,02%.

As for the result, BPS recorded that in 2017, Indonesia had 70,69 happiness points out of 100, a number that has been rising since in 2014 we only got 68,28 points. This number is the combination of those living in the city and in the village, with those living in the city having bigger Gross National Happiness of 71,64% compared to those living in the village with only 69,57%. 


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