Measure Progress in Happiness, Not Money, Bhutan Urges

Apr 3, 2012 | Posted by: roboblogger | Full story: Inter Press Service

For decades, the Kingdom of Bhutan has used the concept of "gross national happiness" to guide its development.

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“Come Home America!”

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Claymont, Delaware 19809

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May 3, 2012
 

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Toward a New Bretton Woods and a Sustainable Civilization ...
by Eric Zencey. Early in April, an international community of sustainability theorists and practitioners gathered in New York City at a special High Level Meeting at ...
steadystate.org/new-bretton-woods - "Early in April, an international community of sustainability theorists and practitioners gathered in New York City at a special High Level Meeting at the United Nations.

Titled “Happiness and Wellbeing: Defining a New Economic Paradigm,” the High Level Meeting brought together 600 participants for the plenary session on Monday, April 2, with 200 invited experts staying an additional two days to form working groups to address key elements of the new economic paradigm. The meeting was called to begin the implementation of UN General Assembly Resolution 65/309, passed last year on unanimous voice vote. That resolution, brought forward by the tiny mountain kingdom of Bhutan and sixty-eight co-sponsoring nations, called for implementation of a dramatically different, more “holistic” understanding of economic development. It specifically rejected the GDP-based approach taken in the past and called for the creation and use of an alternative set of indicators that would more accurately measure human wellbeing. It also authorized Bhutan to call the High Level Meeting to articulate that indicator set, and to create a path toward its adoption.

But the meeting was about more than an indicator set. To decide what you’re going to measure, you have to know what you want to measure, and discussion of that — the ultimate purpose of an economy — subverts a great deal of traditional economic thought. And so the larger purpose of the meeting was to articulate the elements of a new economic paradigm, and to issue a call to world leaders to adopt its fundamental precepts.

The linking of development policy, pursuit of wellbeing, and alternative indicators in a new economic paradigm is a strong step toward establishing a sane and sustainable civilization that focuses on meeting human needs with ecological efficiency. To get there, centuries of infinite-planet economic thinking have to be swept aside. Traditional development theory begins with the idea that some nations are underdeveloped — nations that don’t have a western, industrial, consumerist economy. It also supposes that all the nations of the world want that kind of economy and that they can have it. But all three presumptions are false. No nation on the planet has an ecologically sustainable economy, which means that every nation, without exception, faces a major development problem. Consistent with the principles and practice of traditional neoclassical economics, western-style consumerist development has been predicated on an enormous drawdown of the planet’s stock of stored antique sunlight — oil and coal — which is a finite resource; and it has completely ignored the fact that the planet’s “sink” services — its ability to absorb our effluents, including greenhouse gases, without ill effect — are fixed and finite."

“Come Home America!”

Since: Nov 11

Claymont, Delaware 19809

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Forget GDP: Radical plans to go beyond growth- MSN Money
... to measuring economic progress ... that the gross domestic product indicator by ... economist Alan Krueger, who now chairs President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisors, co ...
money.msn.com/politics/post.aspx... ...- " "The welfare of a nation can scarcely be inferred from a measurement of national income," Nobel Prize-winning economist Simon Kuznets, who coordinated the GDP development work of researchers at the Commerce Department and the National Bureau of Economic Research, once told Congress.

A host of prominent modern-day economists have also questioned the real-world value of measuring GDP -- and suggested that we need to develop a different measure that better reflects the well-being of individuals and families. Nobel laureates Amartya Sen and Joseph Stiglitz headed up a Commission on the Measurement of Economic Performance and Social Progress created by French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

Economist Jeffrey Sachs, director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, was among the featured speakers at the U.N. meeting this week. In an introduction to a “World Happiness Report” commissioned for the U.N. conference, Sachs writes that it makes sense “to pursue policies to raise the public’s happiness as much as it does to raise the public’s national income. Bhutan is on to something path breaking and deeply insightful. And the world is increasingly taking notice.” And in a piece titled “Rethinking the Growth Imperative” published earlier this year, Harvard economist Kenneth Rogoff, formerly the chief economist at the International Monetary Fund, highlighted some shortcomings of modern growth theory.

"Modern macroeconomics often seems to treat rapid and stable economic growth as the be-all and end-all of policy," Rogoff wrote. "There is a certain absurdity to the obsession with maximizing long-term average income growth in perpetuity, to the neglect of other risks and considerations."

There is a consensus of sorts building around the idea that current economic measures, particularly GDP, are inadequate as true measures of societal well-being, says Haque. "You will see a lot of the greatest economists in the world now beginning to agree," he says."

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