Vision of Integrated Happiness Accounting System in China

  • State Key Laboratory of Frozen Soil Engineering, CAREERI, CAS, Lanzhou 730000, China

Received date: 2005-03-22

  Revised date: 2005-07-06

  Online published: 2005-11-25

Supported by

Key project of National Natural Science Foundation of China, No.40235053; National Natural Science Foundation of China, No.40201019; the Assessment of Impact and Adaptation of Climate Change (AIACC) Project, No.AS25


Enhancing and sustaining the happiness life or the quality of life (QOL) is a primary and ultimate goal of national policy. First, the evolvement tendency and characteristic of national accounting system have been identified. The fundamental characteristic of GDP, green accounting and ISEW is that these accounting systems are still based on measuring how much is being consumed, with the assumption that more consumption leads to more welfare. Happiness or quality of life as a completely different approach shall be taken to look directly at actual well-being achieved, which will separate the means (consumption) from the ends (happiness or QOL) without assuming one is correlated with the other. Secondly, the theoretical implications of human development have been discussed and three constraints have been identified as environmental constraint, equality and efficiency. Based on brief introduction of environmental and social constraints faced by China's human development, we analysed the relationship between economic growth and environmental pressure from the view of consumption and production in China. The overall findings don't support the environmental Kuznets curve hypothesis, and our theoretical analysis can not support the claim that technological progress cannot reconcile the conflict between economic growth and environmental conservation. China should replace much of their faith in technological progress with the pursuit of other forms of cultural progress. Thirdly, The concept of happiness or QOL and its measurement approach have been introduced. If improving gross national happiness (GNH) is indeed the goal of social policies and programs, it follows that appropriate national aggregate accounting system should attempt to measure the extent to which policies actually improve GNH. GNH can be the measurement components of an overall plan to maximize social well-being. The first step in the process would be to identify the constitutive components of a preferred society in the greatest detail possible through a stakeholder dialogue process. This information would be used to identify the relevant instrumental components. The second step would be to identify the metrics of GNH's instrumental components. Direct measurement, indirect measurement and social choice have been recommended as alternative instruments to resolve the complex measurement. A specific action plan for maximizing GNH can be developed based on the above identifying process. Once these are established, the following four guidelines such as focusing on poor people, developing cyclic economy, considering cultural development and harmonizing the equality and efficiency may be useful in developing a successful plan.

Cite this article

CHENG Guodong, XU Zhongmin, XU Jinxiang . Vision of Integrated Happiness Accounting System in China[J]. Acta Geographica Sinica, 2005 , 60(6) : 883 -893 . DOI: 10.11821/xb200506001


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