National Happiness: Universalism, Cultural Relativism, or Both? An Assessment

Whitehouse, Chris ; Winderl, Thomas

In: Proceedings of the First International Conference on Operationalization of Gross National Happiness. Centre for Bhutan Studies, Thimphu 2004, pp. 389-408 . ISBN 99936-14-22-X

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The concept of Gross National Happiness seeks to address perceived shortfalls in mainstream development thinking. Gross National Happiness is intuitively attractive, yet remains to be formalized; on the other hand, Human Development indicators are highly formalized but do not allow for national, regional or cultural differences. By comparing National Happiness with the Human Development Index and its components, the paper explores the differences between them. Overall correlations between National Happiness and the HDI and its components are not strong. An analysis of data on 67 countries suggests that there are significant differences in which aspects of development correlate most highly with happiness, and these variations appear to be dependent on (a) whether HDI is high or low; (b) whether GDP/GNP is high or low; and on (c) the geographical location of these countries. The paper argues that for National Happiness to be effective, it can, and should, accommodate both the need for a universally applicable measure, and the requirement for the means to achieve this happiness to be defined in the context of the relevant culture.

Document type: Book Section
Version: Secondary publication
Date Deposited: 15 Mar 2010 15:54
ISBN: 99936-14-22-X
Faculties / Institutes: Research Organisations / Academies > Centre for Bhutan Studies
DDC-classification: Social sciences
Controlled Keywords: Bruttonationalglück, Sozialer Indikator, Universalismus, Kulturrelativismus
Uncontrolled Keywords: Entwicklungskonzept, Gross National Happiness , Social Indicator , Universalism , Cultural Relativism
Subject (classification): Sociology