Government Research

Governments are beginning to embrace the idea of gross national happiness.


Momentum has been steadily building over the past decade behind the idea that the wellbeing of citizens is a better measure of how a country’s doing than gross domestic product. But getting at that metric is no easy task. Governments ranging in size from small municipal bodies to national leaders are grappling with how to not only determine whether their citizens are happy, but also how to figure out what would make their citizens happier and how to integrate that knowledge into policy.


  • Bhutan – Bhutan was the first country to begin measuring the personal wellbeing of its citizenry, launching its Gross National Happiness program more than five years ago.
  • United Kingdom – The UK’s Office of National Statistics began measuring and tracking wellbeing in the country in 2012. Annual reports and related info are available here.
  • Pew Research: People in Emerging Markets Catch Up to Advanced Economies in Life Satisfaction – This 2014 international survey by Pew Research found that both individuals and nations as a whole get a little happier once they stop being poor. But true happiness depends on more than wealth.
  • The World Happiness Report – The World Happiness Report, commissioned by the United Nations Conference on Happiness and compiled by John Helliwell, Richard Layard and Jeffrey Sachs of Columbia University, has the ambitious goal of surveying the state of happiness in the world today and looking at how the science of happiness plays into it.
  • United Nations Resolution on Happiness – In a resolution adopted without a vote, the UN General Assembly invited countries “to pursue the elaboration of additional measures that better capture the importance of the pursuit of happiness and well-being in development with a view to guiding their public policies.”

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