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China Times: Boosting happiness is government's responsibility

China Times: Boosting happiness is government's responsibility

The Japanese government recently decided to follow in the footsteps of Bhutan and adopt a gross national happiness (GNH) index to measure the general well-being of its people. The concept was first put forth in 1972 by the king of Bhutan at the time, Jigme Singye Wangchuck. The country later developed the GNH index based on four pillars: the promotion of sustainable development, preservation and promotion of cultural values, conservation of the natural environment, and establishment of good governance. Nearly forty years later, Bhutan has become a true Shangri-La in the Himalayas. Although the country's per capita income stands at just US$2,000, 97 percent of its people feel they are happy. In Taiwan, the Taiwan Competitive Forum also conducted a similar survey in 2008 and 2009, which revealed that 66.1 percent of people felt they were happy. The first-ever "world map of happiness," published in 2006 by the University of Leicester in the United Kingdom, ranked the people of Taiwan and Hong Kong as the world's 63rd happiest among 178 countries and territories surveyed. Japan took 88th place and South Korea 99th. This demonstrates that despite these countries having economies that outperform those of other countries in the region, their people are not particularly happy. Economics-based indices such as gross national product and gross domestic product should no longer be the sole or most important measures used by the government to assess the success of its policies. While pursuing economic competitiveness, the government also has an important responsibility to address people's nonmaterialistic needs and increase their sense of happiness. (Editorial abstract -- Dec. 10, 2011) (By Y.F. Low)


Updated : 2021-09-26 18:22 GMT+08:00