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Symposium 2015

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

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 ...

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.

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.