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Yesterday was the first International Day of Happiness as proclaimed by the UN General Assembly in July 2012. The idea to introduce such a day derived from a meeting titled “Happiness and Well-being: Defining a New Economic Paradigm”. The meeting had been convened by the Government of Bhutan and is one of many initiatives questioning economic growth and the GDP as leading indicator for political success (e.g. summarized in a MPIfG working paper, in German). During the debates on alternatives, Bhutan gained a lot of prominence for its decade-old practice of focusing on citizens’ happiness instead.

The resolution which introduces the Day of Happiness also tells us that “the pursuit of happiness is a fundamental human goal”. Furthermore, the UN General Assembly recognizes

“the relevance of happiness and well-being as universal goals and aspirations in the lives of human beings around the world and the importance of their recognition in public policy objectives”


the need for a more inclusive, equitable and balanced approach to economic growth that promotes sustainable development, poverty eradication, happiness and the well-being of all peoples

The new economic paradigm which the world was supposed to reflect on yesterday is still one of economic growth, one might say – but in addition, there is an International Day of Happiness.


The Book

Governance across borders: transnational fields and transversal themes. Leonhard Dobusch, Philip Mader and Sigrid Quack (eds.), 2013, epubli publishers.
October 2021

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