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Beyond GDP

Measuring What Counts for Economic and Social Performance

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Metrics matter for policy and policy matters for well-being. In this report, the co-chairs of the OECD-hosted High Level Expert Group on the Measurement of Economic Performance and Social Progress, Joseph E. Stiglitz, Jean-Paul Fitoussi and Martine Durand, show how over-reliance on GDP as the yardstick of economic performance misled policy makers who did not see the 2008 crisis coming. When the crisis did hit, concentrating on the wrong indicators meant that governments made inadequate policy choices, with severe and long-lasting consequences for many people. While GDP is the most well-known, and most powerful economic indicator, it can’t tell us everything we need to know about the health of countries and societies. In fact, it can’t even tell us everything we need to know about economic performance. We need to develop dashboards of indicators that reveal who is benefitting from growth, whether that growth is environmentally sustainable, how people feel about their lives, what factors contribute to an individual’s or a country’s success. This book looks at progress made over the past 10 years in collecting well-being data, and in using them to inform policies. An accompanying volume, For Good Measure: Advancing Research on Well-being Metrics Beyond GDP, presents the latest findings from leading economists and statisticians on selected issues within the broader agenda on defining and measuring well-being.

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Preface

This short book provides our personal perspective, as Chairs of the OECD-hosted High-Level Group on the Measurement of Economic Performance and Social Progress (HLEG), on the most salient issues discussed by the Group over the past five years (from 2013 to 2018). Over this period, the HLEG periodically convened to discuss many of the issues that are reflected in this book. The HLEG, whose members are listed in below, was created to pursue the work of the Commission on the Measurement of Economic Performance and Social Progress convened by former French President Nicolas Sarkozy in 2008 (the “Stiglitz-Sen-Fitoussi Commission”). A companion report, For Good Measure: Advancing Research on Well-being Metrics Beyond GDP, provides a series of authored chapters, prepared by some HLEG members, on those topics that have been the focus of the HLEG work, and which are also discussed here.

English

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