Devonomics

Devonomics

It is difficult to answer questions about how Nigeria can and should achieve sustainable economic, social and political growth. This column takes a look at well known development economic theories and applies them to the unique Nigerian context.

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Is Gross National Happiness the new GDP?

Martha Sambe

Martha Sambe

Martha is a graduate of Development Economics and International Cooperation from the University of Rome, Tor Vergata. She enjoys writing and researching topics in development, sociology, and religion.

Belatedly, happiness has become an important measure of welfare. The key feature that makes happiness a good gauge for welfare is that it considers non-income factors. This is unlike Gross Domestic Product (GDP) which we use as a measure of national income and output, but also as a yardstick for welfare. But even Simon Kuznets, the man credited with developing the modern idea of GDP, was sceptical about how much we could infer from it when judging human welfare. 

Still, income plays a role. Evidence over time suggests that richer people are, on average, happier than poorer ones. But when does this relationship hold? Or where? Does that make poor people unhappy? And how exactly do we measure happiness?

 

GNH is the Future...

...Or the prevailing order of the day, if you live in Bhutan. The term Gross National Happiness (GNH) is the brainchild of the King of Bhutan who in the 70's realised that a high GDP did not necessarily translate to development or happiness for his people. The King believed that happiness was a more direct indicator of the state of society. Put simply, the GNH is a measure of welfare and national progress that gives similar importance to economic and non-economic factors. 

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