This talk explores the relationship between wealth and happiness. In the conventional economic model, happiness is tied to wealth: get wealthy, be happy. Those of us in the “developed” world have reassured ourselves that we are happier than people living in “developing” countries. Until about a decade ago, this was credible. Meanwhile we have reached a point where wealth and happiness are in conflict. I am especially concerned with one obvious sign of this conflict: the crisis of the natural environment. Some economists insist that dealing with the environmental crisis depends on further economic growth. They call it “sustainable development.” Not just government and business, but ordinary citizens, too, are addicted to economic growth. Other social problems stem from this core conflict, including mental illnesses, juvenile delinquency, and suicide. We need a new economic model. The previous model can be called “economics of wealth”; I propose an “economics of happiness and wellbeing.” In this talk, we will revisit the precursors to this idea, from Gandhi to Robert Kennedy to E. F. Schumacher to the King of Bhutan, who has proposed that instead of GNP (Gross National Product), we embrace the idea of GNH (Gross National Happiness).
Tsuji Shinichi (a.k.a. Keibo Oiwa) is a cultural anthropologist, author, and environmental activist. He lived in North America for sixteen years and holds a Ph.D. in Anthropology from Cornell University. In 1992, he joined the International Studies Department of Meiji Gakuin University in Yokohama where he has been teaching ever since. The founder of the NGO “Sloth Club”, he has authored over 20 books in Japanese and three in English. More information at www.keibo.org (English) or www.sloth.gr.jp/tsuji/ (Japanese).