Discussion and research on "development" emerged in the middle of the 20th century. Since World War II the focus of international attention has been development in developing countries. And since the implementation of the "First UN Development Decade" by the UN General Assembly in the 1960s, development has become a prominent research topic. However, the concept has shifted from concentrating on GDP growth to more comprehensive social, environmental and economic conditions.
Beginning in the 1970s, with the expansion of the meaning of development, the focus shifted from developing countries to developed Western countries. Concepts such as quality of life and indexes of happiness or well-being began to be proposed. Researchers in psychology, economics, sociology and public policy studied the topic.
With this perspective, people realized that economic growth should not be the goal of life. It is merely a means of promoting human happiness. After distinguishing the ends from the means, academic circles began to conduct studies on the relationship between the sense of happiness in people and economic growth.
Many studies have been conducted on the impact of economic growth on happiness. For example, a study by the University of Leicester ranked Bhutan as the planet's eighth-happiest place. Nevertheless, statistics generally show that the more developed a nation's economy is, the happier its people feel. This shows that a sense of happiness relies to a degree on economic development. But beyond that point, the marginal utility of material wealth will diminish.
Well-being index studies show that the meaning of happiness is not limited to the subjective sense of happiness. It also includes objective appraisals of living and development conditions. In other words, the concept of happiness has a material level of social welfare and economic conditions as its foundation, as well as the non-material level of things like culture, education, social networks and the living environment.
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