Is the GDP in our GNH?

Here’s some good news from the RMA: our GDP, which is about Nu 59 billion, grew by 21.4% in 2007 and increased per capita GDP to US$ 1900. Not bad. We now have the highest GDP per person in South Asia. But what does this mean?

Do you contribute your share to the GDP? If you do, you would have contributed US$ 1900 worth of goods or services to the economy. And if you do that, you would earn US$ 1900 in one year. Now US$ 1900 is roughly Nu 95,000 which is about Nu 7,900 a month. Do you earn that much? If you do, you earn your share of the GDP. If you don’t, you earn that much more, or less, of the GDP.

But let’s say you are married, that your spouse does not work, and that you have two young children. That’s a total of four people in your family living off only your salary – that wouldn’t be farfetched. Now how much would you have to earn to get your family of four to enjoy their share of the GDP? Nu 7,900 times 4, or Nu 31,600 a month. Do you earn that much? Probably not. Most families don’t.

What does this mean?

This means that we don’t work to earn much of the money that is pumped into our economy in the form of international loans, aid and hydropower exports. This means that imports dominate exports. That money does not circulate among us sufficiently. And this means that we don’t have enough people working outside our farms. This means that our GDP is not really that impressive.

I’ll be happier with a smaller GDP and a much more modest per capita GDP, but one which truly reflects our productivity. A per capita GDP that most Bhutanese can claim to earn.

And one more thing: I’ll be happy if my earnings, however humble they may be, grew at more or less the same ratio as the GDP.


Facebook Comments:


  1. You know what? Both the GDP and GNH drive me nuts. Know why? Because of the first word ‘Gross.’ I have stated this even in the blog ‘Whatever Matters.’

    It is really no point getting into calculations, as you have meticulously shown la. The GDP figures are meant for a purpose and the higher they are the louder the applaud. There has to be some way of showing that the Five-Year Plans have had their impact, right? The country has developed and we’re moving up the HDI ladder etc etc etc blah blah blah …..

    Who is really bothered about how people’s lives have been impacted? Sadly, we have turned so mean, we’re quick at ‘taking’ (e.g. tax, contributions) and at a snail’s pace when it comes to ‘giving’ (e.g. salary, TA/DA). Talk of Buddhist compassion.

  2. Jedha, U are betrayal leader of Bhutan. You are naughiest one

  3. anonymous 11:26 what’s wrong with you? Just because it’s an open forum you think you can say anything?

  4. I do not understand why the Anonymous person (Feb. 7, 2009) would leave such degenerate comments into somebody’s blog. I think it’s the same individual who has left similar comments in all of the entries in this blog. Do understand that Mr.Tshering Tobgay is taking up a very bold step in openly discussing his concerns and in welcoming comments from people like you and me.
    In every comment, this individual attacks TT with a lot of rude personal remarks, (I am amazed how TT would not remove such comments). This person doesnot even have the guts to register his name and hides his identity behind anonymity.
    This individual doesnot understand that calling names and passing rude remarks is not only reflecting on his/her personality, but also showing his/her lack of knowledge in positive arguments.

    From my own opinion, Tshering Tobgay is doing a great Job in sharing his views and points with us in his personal blog. No leader that I know of in Bhutan has ever done this. This shows that he has nothing to hide and is fulfilling the true essence of Democracy.
    Do respect his effort and if you do not agree with his point, write it down. But don’t just pass such degenerate comments.
    Otherwise, you are not a Bhutanese, but an anti social criminal who is overstaying his/her welcome in Bhutan.

  5. I must say it takes a lot to open up your mind to others, openly. Whether we agree with the OL or not, he has been frank about sharing his thoughts. We have to give him that. Immature imbeciles such as Anon 2 does not deserve a response really. I may not always agree with the OL, but I respect the fact that he is openly blogging on various issues. Most of our MPs, including some ministers, I betcha, will not even have an opinion on most things. If he thinks he is any better, Anon 2 should speak up, but use his words. We can’t understand your whining. Please.

  6. hey anonymous, go to school first, learn how you spell and write proper sentences. All you know is that famoous bhutanese word.

    Put something productive if u donot agree with OL but ohhh! i forgot, you dont know shit.

  7. Phillip Myburgh says

    Hi Tshering, what’s all this rattling on about GDP? Here I was a convert to the notion that GDP is only of any value to the xtent that it contributes to GNH. Also, I dont believe a GDP linked more closely to Bhutanese productivity will necessarily mean a GDP which contributes more to GNH (on the contrary perhaps). I hope this finds you well. Oh, and this blog is great credit to your ongoing and invaluable contribution to the Bhutanese democratic evolution. Hail to the chief.

  8. Hi Phillip: Most of us, the educated lot, take pride that our percapita GDP is one of the highest in our region. And that that figure is growing.

    I want to make people think about what those figures mean – in particular, does the average citizen earn as much. The answer is no (almost one third of our population lives in poverty, by our government’s calucations). but no body’s calculated median-gdp: i’d find that figure interesting; or average and median incomes: that would be even more interesting.

    our economy is heavily dependent on grant-aid, loans and earnings from export of hydropower. so increasing these increases gdp. but much of the money does not circulate in the economy: most of it goes almost directly outside, to India and beyond.

    and the title: first, gdp is important for gnh. it’s not every thing, but it is important. and second, increasing income disparities will make a unhappy people and unstable society. not good for gnh.

Leave a Reply