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Symposium 2015

New Indicators of Progress: How to Make a Difference to Policy and Politics

The Challenge

Despite growing recognition from many senior politicians and officials that progress is not just about economic growth, and that economic growth (as measured by GDP) should not be the overriding goal of government, the day-to-day reality is that GDP growth does persist as a central focus. For example, whilst France is recognised as having lead the way in the ‘Beyond GDP’ agenda with the Stiglitz Commission arguing for a shift in focus from production to wellbeing, the French President Hollande was recently quoted as saying "I will do everything to make growth as high as possible.” This primacy of growth risks other objectives, including social and environmental goals, being sidelined. Indeed, whilst economists often say that economic growth is only a means to an end, and that that end is wellbeing, there is reason to believe that some decisions are taken which favour increasing economic growth at the expense of wellbeing.

Alternatives, or complements, to GDP have gained interest, but still have little traction in policy. This is largely due to three key problems, identified in a recent EC-funded project, with current Beyond GDP proposals. Firstly, they lack a clear narrative. Secondly, they suffer from information overload, with many proposals involving large baskets of indicators, from which it is hard to draw overall conclusions. Thirdly, they fall short of legitimacy with proposals often developed by a few ‘experts’, without any links to public opinion. This GES session shall provide an opportunity to consider a new proposal for five headline indicators of progress, which aims to overcome these challenges and to provide a concrete and implementable proposal to the Beyond GDP debate. The exact proposal put forward should be treated as an example, but it will provide the opportunity to address important questions, for example:

Does the proposal of having five headline indicators provide an appropriate balance between the simplicity required to draw an overall picture, and the complexity inherent in societal progress? Are the indicators proposed the right ones? Can they be applied to a broad set of developed and developing countries? Why? Why not? How can policy-makers deal with multiple objectives simultaneously? What and who would get politicians to take an alternative measurement paradigm seriously? How can businesses be part of the solution when Beyond GDP is generally about shifting priorities away from economic growth? What would it take to embed indicators like these into the public’s conscience?

This session is organized by the New Economics Foundation. Please check out the tabs below for additional facts and information.

    Solutions

    Solution
    Symposium 2015

    Economy for the Common Good

    Economy for the Common Good

    Economy for the Common Good

    Solution
    Symposium 2015

    Five Headline Indicators of National Success Based on Public Priorities

    Five Headline Indicators of National Success Based on Public Priorities

    Five Headline Indicators of National Success Based on Public Priorities

    Solution
    Symposium 2015

    An Alternative Concept of Growth

    An Alternative Concept of Growth

    An Alternative Concept of Growth

    Background Paper

    Background Paper
    Symposium 2015

    New Indicators of Progress: How to Make a Difference to Policy and Politics

    Polity, Academia, Business, Civil Society

    Virtual Library

    Virtual Library File
    Symposium 2015

    Report by the Commission on the Measurement of Economic Performance and Social Progress (Executive Summary pp7-18)

    The Executive Summary of the report of the Stiglitz-Sen-Fitoussi Commission identifies 'the limits of GDP as an indicator of economic performance and social progress' and makes a number of recommendat ...

    The Executive Summary of the report of the Stiglitz-Sen-Fitoussi Commission identifies 'the limits of GDP as an indicator of economic performance and social progress' and makes a number of recommendations about the sorts of measures which are required to address these limits. This report, published in 2009, has set the agenda for all work on 'Beyond GDP' that has been undertaken since.

    Virtual Library File
    Symposium 2015

    The BRAINPOoL Project: Summary, Recommendations and Next Steps

    This short report summarizes the findings of the 'Cross-Europe Bringing Alternative Indicators into Policy' project. It defines 'Beyond GDP' indicators, sets out where there is demand and lack of dema ...

    This short report summarizes the findings of the 'Cross-Europe Bringing Alternative Indicators into Policy' project. It defines 'Beyond GDP' indicators, sets out where there is demand and lack of demand for them, describes both indicator success factors and barriers to the successful use of Beyond GDP indicators in policy-making, and makes recommendations to address them.

    Virtual Library File
    Symposium 2015

    OECD Better Life Index

    This website shows the results of OECD countries on its Better Life Index, measured across 11 topics and allowing users to rank those topics in order of importance to them, and examine the effects on ...

    This website shows the results of OECD countries on its Better Life Index, measured across 11 topics and allowing users to rank those topics in order of importance to them, and examine the effects on the country rankings.

    Virtual Library File
    Symposium 2015

    Labour’s Living Standards Index – A Step in the Right Direction, But Does It Go Far Enough?

    This is the NEF blog written at the start of our work on headline indicators of success for the UK, setting out the motivation for the proposal and the first set of proposed topics for the indicators.

    This is the NEF blog written at the start of our work on headline indicators of success for the UK, setting out the motivation for the proposal and the first set of proposed topics for the indicators.

    Virtual Library File
    Symposium 2015

    Economy for the Common Good - What is the Common Good Balance Sheet?

    This webpage contains a key tool for organizations to measure their contribution to the Common Good of a democratic society. It gives an account of the degree to which the company fulfills the five mo ...

    This webpage contains a key tool for organizations to measure their contribution to the Common Good of a democratic society. It gives an account of the degree to which the company fulfills the five most important constitutional values of democratic states: human dignity, solidarity, sustainability, justice and democracy. The link to the 'Common Good Matrix 4.1' allow the Balance Sheet to be explored in detail.