Dr. Sauwalak Kittiprapas
International Research Associates for Happy Societies
Paper presented for international conference on “The Meaning of
Sufficiency economy: Theory and Practice in Society, Economy,
and Business”, February 16-17, 2012, Bangkok.
1) The differences between mainstream
economics and alternative approaches:
happiness, Buddhist economics, and
2) How happiness in Buddhist perspective can
lead to the world peace and effective
3) The contributions of sufficiency economy
to add values to mainstream economics
SE. and Buddhist economics principle: selfreliance, contentment, moderation, the
Middle Path way of life, reasonableness,
knowledge/wisdom, interrelationship of
human and nature.
SE. broader meaning: having enough and
being satisfied with the situation (at a
moderate level)=> happiness in mind
Happiness and Buddhist economics:
happiness developed from lower to highest
Neo-classic theory of
economics and sufficiency
concerning subjective wellbeing, apply utilitarianism
include happiness in the utility:
“the greatest happiness
principle” to maximize the
Utilities based on choices total utilities of individuals
of goods/ services.
aiming for the greatest
happiness for the greatest no.
of people, or max. the net
happiness of the whole society.
The modern happiness
economics theories also apply
Self vs non-self focus Self-interest, with the
assumption that humans
Selfless (emptiness /
impermanent in Buddhism).
Reduce selfishness, greed
Add values for spiritual
wellbeing, ethic, goodness,
giving, concerns about
nature and subjective
Wisdom or insight is
Materials / economic
economics and sufficiency
Narrow and broad
Higher consumption =>
higher utilities (used as
happiness ), higher
satisfaction of needs and
Life satisfaction. Satisfaction
is the state of mind.
Happiness from lower to
higher levels depends on
materials, mind, and wisdom,
Development upto mind and
wisdom based happiness lead
to real and sustainable
Key analytical factors
Limited to only
Open for subjective wellbeing determinants and
mainly on economic
indicator – GDP
measurement should also
be include happiness/
well-being or alternative
depends on material
More limited to
assumptions to explain
human mind and societal
Broader perspectives of
human well-being (not
limited to material
wealth), more holistic
peace of mind, etc.
Can have social conflicts
State of mind happiness,
livings in harmony between
human beings and nature,
Social benefits from peace
The development of happiness into higher
levels (more mind and wisdom based)
Less dependence on materials: resources
can be saved or released to help other
Appropriate use of resources and not
Societal happiness increase
The diminishing marginal return of happiness to
At the same level of income/materials, some
individual happiness lines can be higher than the others.
At the same level of happiness, some can utilize less
resources than the others.
Can release more resources to help others and
societies. Increase happiness from mind-based.
Happiness of givers and receivers increase. Lead to the
increased in societal happiness
Figure 2. The relationship between
happiness and materials (in case of excessive
Over time, the continued higher
income cannot lead to the rise in
happiness, as evident in the case of
US. and others (i.e., Easterlin, 1974),
Japan (Kusago, 2007), and recent
study of both developed and
developing countries including
transitional countries, Easterlin et. al.,
“Were we to use more than 1% of my claim checks on
ourselves, neither our happiness nor our well-being
would be enhanced. In contrast, that remaining 99%
can have a huge effect on the health and welfare of
others. That reality sets an obvious course for me and
my family: Keep all we can conceivably need and
distribute the rest to society, for its needs”.
“In 2006, I made a commitment to gradually give all of
my Berkshire Hathaway stock to philanthropic
foundations. I couldn't be happier with that decision.
Now, Bill and Melinda Gates and I are asking hundreds
of rich Americans to pledge at least 50% of their wealth
to charity. More than 99% of my wealth will go to
philanthropy during my lifetime or at death”.
Excessive amount of materials are not
necessary to bring in more happiness
and can be a waste use of resources (or
burden & problems of ‘having too much’)
•Increased happiness can come from
• Higher level of happiness in mind and
the feeling of contentment lead to social
happiness/ sustainable development .
•More resources can be saved and
released to help others in needed.
•Use resources with awareness and goals
more usefully and efficiently
• The implications from both cases:
• We have to be moderate and reasonable in
consumption, needs, and accumulations, which
is in line with SE. concept.
•The peak point of happiness reflect that we
should know what level of material
accumulation is “enough” or “appropriate” for
happy living, middle way of life style that can
bring in happiness. need knowledge and
wisdom to realize.
• SE. life style makes sense. Excessive gain in
materials may not be necessary.
•“ To have enough to live on, of course, means
sufficiency economy. If everyone has enough to live on.
Everything will be all right…… In the past, there was
enough to live on, but today impoverishment is creeping
in. We must, therefore, implement a policy of sufficiency
economy, so that everyone will have enough to live on.”
•“Sufficiency is moderation. If one is moderate in one’s
desires, one will have less craving. If one has less
craving, one will take less advantage of others. If all
nations hold this concept, I don’t mean sufficiency
economy- this concept of moderation, without being
extreme or insatiable in one’s desire, the world will be a
•………..Thus, sufficiency also means moderation and
Sustainable happiness approach
and sufficiency economy concept
offer a new way to a balanced and
sustainable development for both
individual and social levels.
More human and nature concerns
Add values for spiritual and
middle-path and balanced life /
economic growth with caution and
Living in harmony with nature and
Lead to sustainable development
To reflect these contributions in today
mainstream economics teaching and
To reflect QOL. & subjective/ spiritual
well-being in development indicators
Wide ranges of community, national,
international development indicators.
Different sets of indicators to measure
different purposes. Design to fit with
each community/ country/ culture…
Make a national priority and do it!
Have a happy living