IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this article

Is It What You Measure That Really Matters? The Struggle to Move beyond GDP in Canada

Listed author(s):
  • Anders Hayden

    ()

    (Department of Political Science, Dalhousie University, Halifax, NS B3H 4R2, Canada)

  • Jeffrey Wilson

    ()

    (School for Resource and Environmental Studies, Dalhousie University, Halifax, NS B3H 4R2, Canada)

Registered author(s):

    In light of Gross Domestic Product’s (GDP) well-known limitations as a wellbeing indicator, many alternative measures have been developed around the world. Some advocates of “beyond GDP” measures argue that they are key to shifting societal priorities away from economic growth toward sustainability, equity, and well-being. Is there any evidence to date that alternative indicators have lived up to their supporters’ expectations, whether the hope is for a radical transformation of social priorities away from GDP growth or a reformist vision of better policymaking without challenging the growth paradigm? What are the obstacles to fulfilling those expectations? This article examines the Canadian experience, drawing on interviews with researchers, non-governmental organization (NGO) leaders, public-sector officials, and politicians, along with analysis of relevant documents. The hopes of Canadian proponents of new wellbeing measures have been largely disappointed to date, as no impact on federal or provincial policy is evident. Obstacles facing both a transformative and more limited reformist vision are examined. The Canadian case also suggests that use of new socio-economic indicators is best seen as one product of political efforts to bring ecological and social values into decision-making, rather than as the transformative force that will cause a change in societal priorities.

    If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

    File URL: http://www.mdpi.com/2071-1050/8/7/623/pdf
    Download Restriction: no

    File URL: http://www.mdpi.com/2071-1050/8/7/623/
    Download Restriction: no

    Article provided by MDPI, Open Access Journal in its journal Sustainability.

    Volume (Year): 8 (2016)
    Issue (Month): 7 (July)
    Pages: 1-18

    as
    in new window

    Handle: RePEc:gam:jsusta:v:8:y:2016:i:7:p:623-:d:73277
    Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.mdpi.com/

    References listed on IDEAS
    Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

    as
    in new window


    1. repec:cup:apsrev:v:90:y:1996:i:03:p:475-487_20 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Betsey Stevenson & Justin Wolfers, 2008. "Economic Growth and Subjective Well-Being: Reassessing the Easterlin Paradox," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 39(1 (Spring), pages 1-102.
    3. Isabelle CASSIERS & Géraldine THIRY, 2014. "A High-Stakes Shift: Turning the Tide From GDP to New Prosperity Indicators," Discussion Papers (IRES - Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales) 2014002, Université catholique de Louvain, Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales (IRES).
    4. Aneta Bonikowska & John Helliwell & Feng Hou & Grant Schellenberg, 2014. "An Assessment of Life Satisfaction Responses on Recent Statistics Canada Surveys," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 118(2), pages 617-643, September.
    5. Dolan, Paul & Layard, Richard & Metcalfe, Robert, 2011. "Measuring subjective well-being for public policy," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 35420, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    6. Bleys, Brent & Whitby, Alistair, 2015. "Barriers and opportunities for alternative measures of economic welfare," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 117(C), pages 162-172.
    7. Max-Neef, Manfred, 1995. "Economic growth and quality of life: a threshold hypothesis," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(2), pages 115-118, November.
    8. Brent Bleys, 2012. "Beyond GDP: Classifying Alternative Measures for Progress," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 109(3), pages 355-376, December.
    9. Jeffrey Wilson & Peter Tyedmers, 2013. "Rethinking What Counts. Perspectives on Wellbeing and Genuine Progress Indicator Metrics from a Canadian Viewpoint," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 5(1), pages 1-16, January.
    10. Boyd, James, 2007. "Nonmarket benefits of nature: What should be counted in green GDP?," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 61(4), pages 716-723, March.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

    When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:gam:jsusta:v:8:y:2016:i:7:p:623-:d:73277. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (XML Conversion Team)

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

    If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.