For Good Measure

Advancing Research on Well-being Metrics Beyond GDP

image of For Good Measure

The 2009 Commission on the Measurement of Economic Performance and Social Progress (“Stiglitz-Sen-Fitoussi” Commission) concluded that we should move away from over-reliance on GDP when assessing a country’s health, towards a broader dashboard of indicators that would reflect concerns such as the distribution of well-being and sustainability in all of its dimensions. This book includes contributions from members of the OECD-hosted High Level Expert Group on the Measurement of Economic Performance and Social Progress, the successor of the Stiglitz-Sen-Fitoussi Commission, and their co-authors on the latest research in this field. These contributions look at key issues raised by the 2009 Commission that deserved more attention, such as how to better include the environment and sustainability in our measurement system, and how to improve the measurement of different types of inequalities, of economic insecurity, of subjective well-being and of trust.

A companion volume Beyond GDP: Measuring What Counts for Economic and Social Performance presents an overview by the co-chairs of the High Level Expert Group, Joseph E. Stiglitz, Jean-Paul Fitoussi and Martine Durand of the progress accomplished since the 2009 report, of the work conducted by the Group over the past five years, and of what still needs to be done.



Measuring sustainability

This chapter outlines the principles of the capital approach and of the systems approach to measuring sustainable development. In the capital approach, human, social, natural, and economic capital are considered separately, with indicators presented on their stocks and how they change over time. While significant progress has been achieved in operationalising this approach to sustainability, this approach, argue the authors, implicitly assumes the independence of these stocks, and do not easily lend itself to considering interactions between different parts of the systems that underpin human well-being and functioning ecosystems. The chapter considers how the systems approach should be taken forward to move from theoretical considerations to empirical applications. It explains the key notions underpinning the systems approach, including risk, vulnerability and resilience, arguing that sustainability remains the ultimate objective. The chapter proposes a measurement agenda, suggesting steps to improve consideration of economic, human, and natural capital in the capital approach; and to improve the measurement of resilience and other aspects of the systems approach.


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