Although for many decades, it was customary to focus on
GDP and other
measures of national income, there has been growing interest in
developing broad measures of economic well-being. National and
international approaches include the Beyond
GDP programme developed by
the European Union, the Better Lives Compendium of Indicators
developed by the OECD, as well as many alternative metrics of
wellbeing or happiness. One of the earliest attempts to develop such
an index at national level was Bhutan's
Gross National Happiness
Gross National Happiness Index
and there are a now a number of similar projects ongoing around the
world, including a project to develop for the UK an assessment of
national well-being, commissioned by the Prime Minister David Cameron
and led by the Office for National Statistics.
2 Beyond GDP
3 Measuring national well-being in the UK
4 World Bank
5 Suggested measures
6 See also
8 External links
The GNH phrase was initially used as an off-hand remark to indicate
the King’s lack of interest in western materialistic style of
economic development. The implementation of the GNH philosophy was
meant to prohibit TV and Jeans from becoming part of the culture of
the Bhutanese population.  Despite modernization of the GNH concept
by Karma Ura, Up to date the GNH is seen by some to hide some values
that are in contradiction to western lifestyle. 
In 2005, a US based think tank, the international institute of
management, published a working paper  followed by a policy white
paper in 2006 calling for the implementation of GNH philosophy in the
United States. The papers called for a secular and more scientific
implementation of a public policy framework and econometric
measurement tool also known as
Gross National Well-being or GNW and
launched the first secular global gross national happiness index
survey. Despite, the differences in the visions, both papers credited
the King of
Bhutan for the inspiration.
The American GNH framework and GNH Index Survey was referenced by
various researchers and policy makers as an answer to the failures of
unchecked capitalism and hyper-focus on GDP. Among the prominent
proposals was a report to US congress, UK Prime Minister Office, and
Government of Goa. . 
Later happiness and well-being development frameworks were similar to
the proposal. For example the
Bhutan GNH Index published in 2012 after
2 years of research was not dissimilar from the first secular GNH
framework and Index of 2005. The main difference was the addition of
spiritual elements such as Karma and prayers indicators to fit the
local Bhutanese culture. The
Bhutan GNH philosophy was initially
dismissed due to its generality and was considered as touchy-feely
concept, but later taken seriously after it published an econometric
In 2007, the European Commission, the European Parliament, Club of
OECD and WWF hosted a conference titled "Beyond GDP". The
consensus was to widen measures of economic growth and come up with
measures that can inform policy making. The conference was
attended by over 650 policy makers, experts and social activists.
Spurred by its success the
European Union released a communication
GDP and beyond: Measuring progress in a changing world that
identified five actions to improve the indicators of progress in ways
that make it more responsive to the concerns of its citizens:
GDP with highly aggregated environmental and social
Near real-time information for decision-making
More accurate reporting on distribution and inequalities
Developing a European sustainable development scoreboard
Extending national accounts to environmental and social issues.
Following this communication and its adoption by the European
Parliament in June 2008, many European governments and policy makers
have started work on developing new measures of economic
In August 2013, the
European Commission published the Staff Working
Document on "Progress on '
GDP and beyond' actions" , in which reviews
what had been achieved on the five steps identified in the
GDP and beyond: Measuring progress in a changing world.
Some of the most significant actions taken include:
The European Statistical System adopted the first set of indicators on
'quality of life and well-being' and it also decided for the EU-SILC
(EU Statistics on Income and Living Conditions) to be the core
instrument for building up such indicators.
The time taken to publish key environmental indicators such as
greenhouse gas emissions has been shortened by as much as eight months
by using advanced statistical methods to arrive at so-called 'early
estimates', which have proven to be sufficiently accurate to inform
policy decisions. Since 2012,
Eurostat has produced 'early
estimates'—within four months—for CO2 emissions from energy use.
A consensus has not been reached on the EU Sustainable Development
Scoreboard. However, a preliminary scoreboard of resource efficiency
indicators (REI) is currently being tested and discussed.
The EU actively supported the finalisation and adoption by the United
Nations Statistical Commission (UNSC) of the System of Environmental
Economic Accounting (SEEA) as the international statistical standard.
Since 2010, European statistics have been published on 'annual
adjusted disposable income in purchasing power standards' and the
quarterly 'real disposable income of households'.
Summary indices on poverty and human development have been calculated
for all 277 European regions.
In addition, the
European Commission provides a list of different
indicators that can be categorised into five categories :
GDP and other macro-economic indicators - provided by the System of
National Accounts (SNA).
GDP measures - include costs such as expense of environmental
degradation, resource depletion or higher income inequality. They
provide a more accurate indication of a country's actual economic,
environmental and social performance.
Social indicators – combine several aspects of social progress.
Environmental indicators – relate to the environmental development
and linked issues such as human health.
Well-being – include both subjective and objective measures to
report on quality of life and life satisfaction.
Measuring national well-being in the UK
In 2010 the Measuring National
Well-being programme was launched in
the UK. It is led by the
Office for National Statistics
Office for National Statistics (ONS) and its
aim is to develop accepted and trusted measures of the well-being of
Following a national debate in 2011 asking “what matters” to the
general public, the programme has published a series of releases on
experimental methodology such as the value of the non-market
production of households collected in the Household Satellite Accounts
and ad-hoc analysis like the Commuting and Personal Well-being
release. It has also established a series of periodic publications.
For example, the Human Capital estimates and the Life in the UK report
are published annually.
The Life in the UK report was first published in November 2012 and
included the National
Well-being Wheel of measures, which is being
updated twice a year, with the May 2014 update being the latest. The
wheel includes headline indicators in areas such as health,
relationships, job satisfaction, economic security, education,
environmental conditions and measures of 'personal well-being'
(individuals' assessment of their own well-being).
A Summary of National
Well-being Measures from March 2014
Well-being Wheel of measures
The programme will continue developing and improving the measurement
of the well-being of the citizens in the
United Kingdom in order to
report on the findings to inform both public debate and policy-making.
World Bank suggests the usage of
Human Development Index
Human Development Index (HDI) and
Gross National Happiness
Gross National Happiness Index (NHI). The HDI is a composite index
life expectancy at birth, as an index of population health and
knowledge and education as measured by the adult literacy rate and
functions of school enrollment rate and
standard of living measured as a logarithmic function of GDP, adjusted
to purchasing power parity.
The NHI focuses on the spiritual and material development of human
beings by focussing on the four pillars of sustainable development,
preservation of cultural values, conservation of natural resources and
establishment of good governance. The bank also notes suggestions made
by President Nicholas Sarkozy for the modification of the definition
GDP that stops the social and cultural damage that the current
definitions are leading to. The Bank also suggests Adjusted Net
Savings as an alternative to GDP.
Some other measures that have been suggested as a replacement of GDP
Index of Sustainable Economic Welfare (ISEW) as suggested by
Friends of the Earth, Environmentally Sustainable National Income
(eSNI) by Dr. Hueting,
Bhutan GNH Index
Disability-adjusted life year
Green national product
Gender Development Index
Genuine progress indicator
Green gross domestic product
Gross National Happiness
Gross National Well-being
Happy Planet Index
Human Development Index
Index of Sustainable Economic Welfare
Progressive utilization theory
Legatum Prosperity Index
Law of Social Cycle
OECD Better Life Index
Subjective life satisfaction
World Happiness Report
World Values Survey
^ "BBC Dark Secret of Bhutan".
^ "National News about the Ministry of Happiness in Dubai".
^ "Page 21: Report to Congressman Hanssen Clarke , Beachy and Zorn,
Harvard Kennedy School" (PDF).
^ "Page 216 Book Philip Kotler".
^ "Government of Goa Vision 2030: Page 26" (PDF).
^ "Page 29-31 Book In Pursuit of Personal and Political Happiness by
Alastair Campbell, Strategy Director of UK Prime Minister, Tony
^ "Short Summary to GNH Index" (PDF).
^ "Page 54 Book: Singapore the next 50 years".
^ "Economic growth measures should be widened-EU, groups". Reuters.
2007. Retrieved 2012-02-26.
^ Juergen Mohr (February 2011). From an Affluent Society to a Happy
Society: Vital Signs Promising a Change and the Impacts on Industries.
Diplomica Verlag. p. 35. ISBN 978-3-8428-5578-6. Retrieved
26 February 2012.
^ a b "
GDP and beyond: Measuring progress in a changing world".
European Union. 2009. Retrieved 2012-02-26.
^ "Background and history of the Beyond
GDP Initiative" (PDF).
BeyondGDP. Retrieved 2012-02-26.
World Bank (25 May 2010). Innovation policy: a guide for developing
World Bank Publications. p. 231.
ISBN 978-0-8213-8269-1. Retrieved 26 February 2012.
^ "Adjusted Net Saving". The World Bank. Retrieved 2012-02-26.
European Union. 
Office for National Statistics
Office for National Statistics (UK)
London School of Economics. 
Open University. 
Oxford University (Hea