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There's more to life than GDP but how can we measure it?


  • Jennifer Thomas

    (Office for National Statistics)

  • Joanne Evans

    (Office for National Statistics)


SUMMARYThe report by the Commission on the Measurement of Economic Performance and Social Progress, led by Professors Stiglitz, Sen and Fitoussi, is widely seen as setting the agenda for measuring societal wellbeing, going beyond the established headline measure of economic performance, Gross Domestic Product (GDP).In the 2010 Budget Report, it was noted (Box 1.2, page 10) that ‘there is widespread acknowledgement that GDP is not the ideal measure of wellbeing’. The Budget Report continues ‘the Government is committed to developing broader indicators of wellbeing and sustainability with work currently under way to review how the Stiglitz, Sen and Fitoussi report should affect the sustainability and wellbeing indicators collected by Defra (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs), and with the Office for National Statistics (ONS) and the Cabinet Office leading work on taking forward the report's agenda across the UK.’This article identifies relevant Government Statistical Service outputs and initiatives that support this broader societal wellbeing agenda. It follows the structure of the Stiglitz, Sen and Fitoussi report, addressing classical GDP issues, quality of life and sustainable development and the environment. All three are interconnected and together provide the fullest picture of wellbeing. Measuring how these change over time gives the fullest picture of progress. The article concludes with an outline of next steps.

Suggested Citation

  • Jennifer Thomas & Joanne Evans, 2010. "There's more to life than GDP but how can we measure it?," Economic & Labour Market Review, Palgrave Macmillan;Office for National Statistics, vol. 4(9), pages 29-36, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:pal:ecolmr:v:4:y:2010:i:9:p:29-36

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