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Bhutan's Gross National Happiness Outranks Its Gross Domestic Product

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Money can't buy happiness. That's just as true for individuals as it is for governments. In Bhutan, a Buddhist kingdom nestled in the Himalayas between India and China, they've turned that truism into government policy.

In the 1970s, Bhutan's fourth king declared that "gross national happiness" was more important than gross domestic product (GDP). But it wasn't until 2010 that the country administered its first "happiness index," which asked citizens questions like "How much do you trust your neighbors?" and "Is lying justifiable?" In the 2015 index, "happiness surveyors" polled Bhutan's 7,135 citizens on 33 different areas including health, economic prosperity, emotional balance, sleep quality, and community vitality. If a respondent passes a certain threshold in 66% of those areas, they're considered "extensively happy"; above 77% makes them "deeply happy." That year, 43.4% of citizens fell into one of those two categories—an improvement from 40.9% five years earlier. Bhutan's gross national happiness is thriving. That brings us to the metric so many other countries care about: GDP. Money may not buy happiness, but can happiness earn money? Bhutan is just one data point, but judging from it, the answer is yes. Bhutan's economy is growing at an annual rate of nearly 7 percent. More and more households have been reporting income above $350 per year, the index's acceptable threshold. It makes you wonder: what if more countries prioritized their citizens' happiness rather than the economy? Explore this idea in the videos below.

Bhutan's Gross National Happiness Trumps Its GDP

Find out how Bhutan implements its "gross national happiness" index.

Gross National Happiness Explained

What use is money when people are unhappy?

What Is GDP?

Meanwhile, in the rest of the world...

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