Gross National Happiness

Perhaps a better framing of the Index of Sustainable Economic Welfare (ISEW) is GNH: Gross National Happiness. Jigme Singye Wangchuck, king of the Himalayan nation of Bhutan, says GNH consists of “economic self-reliance, a pristine environment, the preservation and promotion of Bhutan’s culture, and good governance in the form of a democracy.

On a related note, I just returned from Italy where the Slow Food movement has morphed into Slow Cities, an emphasis on local sourcing and less harried lifestyle. Spreading to other parts of Europe, the media reported the conflict between the desire for slower cities and the perceived need to compete with countries like China and India.

The Economist reassures us that manufacturing jobs shifting to the east is natural, and that those are actually less safe, less desirable jobs. The “rich nations” will provide more services, which are difficult to export. And…

People always resist change, yet sustained growth relies on a continuous shift in resources to more efficient use. In 1820, for example, 70% of American workers were in agriculture; today 2% are. If all those workers had remained tilling the land, America would now be a lot poorer.


  1. More and more service jobs are being exported. My job and the jobs of four of my coworkers (software development) were exported to India by my former employer. Next time you call Dell for service support– a lot of it comes out of someplace in India too.

    These are some of those service jobs that can’t be exported. It could even happen in your local hospital: Who reads your X-rays and MRI images? The doctor may be _anyplace_ in the world.

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