Joseph Stiglitz, Nobel winner and a staunch critic of Gross Domestic Product, is planning to take a short break from his teaching assignment at the Columbia University and will fly to Bhutan, he has revealed in an interview.
Last year, he advised the French President Nicolas Sarkozy on better alternatives to GDP to measure well-being. His ideas, mostly, were already being tested in Bhutan which is attempting to measure the happiness of its citizens.
Bhutan’s development philosophy of Gross National Happiness is based on four pillars, sustainable development, preservation of culture and tradition, conservation of environment, and good governance. These pillars are further broken down into 72 indicators, including suicidal tendencies or jealousy.
All government programs will be formulated on GNH ideals and will evaluate whether they would make the beneficiary happy. For example, the GNH touchstone will be applied to test if a plan to construct a road to the village will make the villagers happy. If the villagers feel that the road project will affect a spring water source on which they depend, then the project will be reconsidered.
Stiglitz, who has already been to Bhutan once, said that in the United States, ’some special interests’ do not want to measure environmental degradation as part of an economic index.
When a reporter from the Oregon Business News asked the economist if the US can follow Gross National Happiness, he replied that despite opposition, he has been pushing for a broader measure of GDP.
“I think it will happen,” he said.
In this YouTube video, Stiglitz is talking about alternatives to GDP.