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Happiness in the Midst of Change



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Happiness in the Midst of Change A Human Development Approach to Studying GNH in the Context of Economic Development MICHAEL R LEVENSON PATRICIA A JENNINGS MICHELLE D MELLO THAO LE CAROLYN M ALDWIN Contemporary theories of economic development have concentrated on socioeconomic and epidemiological indices of development to the exclusion of issues of psychological and spiritual development Yet economic development without attention to individual human development may produce increasing wealth but decreasing happiness The construct of Gross National Happiness GNH as the real measure of success in a developmental endeavor is intended to serve as a corrective to the exclusive concern with materialistic indices of development Development has intangible as well as tangible aspects No theory or measurement of development can be complete without both Naturally the assessment of the intangibles is more subtle and difficult However that does not render it impossible We will first briefly address some of the tangible indices of development that must be considered crucial to GNH Then we will survey some of the relationships between economic development and subjective well being in economically developed societies We will then critique the contemporary psychological conceptualization of happiness as a rather narrow product of utilitarian philosophy We will contrast this theory with the Buddhist theory of happiness showing the close relationship between happiness and wisdom We will continue with an assessment of the kinds of psychological changes that typically accompany economic development especially individualism concluding with a measurement model that could be used to monitor change in individual well being during a period of rapid economic growth Tangible Requirements Without question GNH requires low infant and child mortality universal access to health care a high level of literacy and access to gainful employment Werner 2003 personal communication Full membership of



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