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How Should We Measure The "Economic" Aspects Of Well-Being?


  • Lars Osberg
  • Andrew Sharpe


The Human Development Index (HDI) uses GDP per capita to measure "command over resources," which implicitly makes the strong value judgment that inequality and insecurity do not matter. This paper presents revised estimates of the Index of Economic Well-Being (IEWB) for the United States, the U.K., Canada, Australia, Germany, Norway and Sweden for the period 1980 to 2001 and demonstrates that replacing an index of the log per capita incomes with our IEWB as the "command over resources" component in the Human Development Index (HDI) affects the level and trend of the HDI, even among affluent nations. Because the IEWB recognizes four dimensions of command over resources (Current effective per capita Consumption flows, Net societal Accumulation of stocks of productive resources, Income Distribution and Economic Security), its use has a particularly large impact where underlying trends in these components diverge (e.g. the U.K. or the United States). Copyright 2005 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

Suggested Citation

  • Lars Osberg & Andrew Sharpe, 2005. "How Should We Measure The "Economic" Aspects Of Well-Being?," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 51(2), pages 311-336, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:revinw:v:51:y:2005:i:2:p:311-336

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