|Word to the wise: Do not try to pay your hotel bill in happiness.|
What GNH did, essentially, was remind us that it is not wealth itself we value, but what it brings us and our concern should be on how well we are meeting those ends. To get old school for a minute, this insight goes all the way back to Aristotle. In Nichomachean Ethics Aristotle states that “wealth is evidently not the good we are seeking; for it is merely useful for the sake of something else.” It is also an insight that has not been lost on some modern economists—Amartya Sen’s work comes to mind.
However, recently in Bhutan, as well as in France and the UK, the idea of GNH has been reduced to a metric. This is, I think, a problem for several reasons. To begin, economics and economists already have alternative metrics to deal with other elements of development we may care about. For inequality, there are measurements like the Gini coefficient, and for the environment, well, there's a lot of literature devoted to just how to value the environment and its degradation. Similarly, there are a plethora of alternative measurements for development, PQLI and HDI to name two, that try to incorporate elements of development other than economic output. So, to begin with I’m skeptical about the need for another metric.