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Beyond GDP: Classifying Alternative Measures for Progress

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  • Brent Bleys

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Abstract

Both the potential pitfalls of macro-economic policies focused on stimulating economic growth and the problems involved in using GDP as a measure of well-being or economic welfare have long been recognized by economists and researchers from other social sciences. Therefore, it is no surprise that alternative measures for policy-making have been developed and promoted since the early 1970s. Over the past 5 years, the development of these measures has gained momentum both politically and academically. However, most research efforts concentrate on the development and promotion of individual indicators, while paying less attention to the wide range of indicators already available and to theoretical insights. As a result, few classification schemes of alternative measures exist today to help policy-makers in selecting a proper set of indicators. This paper first looks into the different classification schemes available in the literature and outlines the weaknesses in each of these. Afterwards, an alternative classification scheme is introduced that draws on the notions of well-being, economic welfare and sustainability. A further sub-categorization is built on the different approaches that are used to quantitatively capture the notions. By focusing on the underlying concepts that the different measures aim to quantify, the alternative classification scheme overcomes the drawbacks of the existing schemes. Finally, 23 alternative measures for policy-making are reviewed and organized into the newly developed classification scheme. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:soinre:v:109:y:2012:i:3:p:355-376
    DOI: 10.1007/s11205-011-9906-6
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    Cited by:

    1. Giorgio Calcagnini & Francesco Perugini, 2016. "A Well-Being Indicator for the Italian Provinces a," Working Papers 1608, University of Urbino Carlo Bo, Department of Economics, Society & Politics - Scientific Committee - L. Stefanini & G. Travaglini, revised 2016.
    2. Delhey, Jan & Steckermeier, Leonie C., 2016. "The Good Life, Affluence, and Self-reported Happiness: Introducing the Good Life Index and Debunking Two Popular Myths," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 88(C), pages 50-66.
    3. Antonella Ferrara & Rosanna Nisticò, 2015. "Regional well-being indicators and dispersion from a multidimensional perspective: evidence from Italy," The Annals of Regional Science, Springer;Western Regional Science Association, vol. 55(2), pages 373-420, December.
    4. Koen Decancq & Erik Schokkaert, 2016. "Beyond GDP: Using Equivalent Incomes to Measure Well-Being in Europe," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 126(1), pages 21-55, March.
    5. Bleys, Brent & Whitby, Alistair, 2015. "Barriers and opportunities for alternative measures of economic welfare," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 117(C), pages 162-172.
    6. Jörg Döpke & Philip Maschke, 2015. "Are There Business Cycles “beyond GDP”? Alternative Measures to GDP at Business Cycle Frequencies," Applied Economics Quarterly (formerly: Konjunkturpolitik), Duncker & Humblot GmbH, Berlin, vol. 61(2), pages 115-139.
    7. Martin Binder, 2014. "Subjective Well-Being Capabilities: Bridging the Gap Between the Capability Approach and Subjective Well-Being Research," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 15(5), pages 1197-1217, October.
    8. repec:gam:jsusta:v:9:y:2017:i:4:p:568-:d:95321 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Greco, Salvatore & Ishizaka, Alessio & Resce, Giuliano & Torrisi, Gianpiero, 2017. "Measuring well-being by a multidimensional spatial model in OECD Better Life Index framework," MPRA Paper 83526, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    10. repec:spr:soinre:v:135:y:2018:i:1:d:10.1007_s11205-016-1489-9 is not listed on IDEAS
    11. Enrico Ivaldi & Guido Bonatti & Riccardo Soliani, 2016. "The Construction of a Synthetic Index Comparing Multidimensional Well-Being in the European Union," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 125(2), pages 397-430, January.
    12. Arzu TEKTAS & Asli Deniz HELVACIOGLU & Abdulmecit KARATAS, 2016. "The Potential Impact Of Regional Beyond Gdp Indicators On Elections," Regional Science Inquiry, Hellenic Association of Regional Scientists, vol. 0(2), pages 65-72, June.
    13. Lauri Peterson, 2014. "The Measurement of Non-economic Inequality in Well-Being Indices," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 119(2), pages 581-598, November.
    14. repec:spr:soinre:v:134:y:2017:i:2:d:10.1007_s11205-016-1450-y is not listed on IDEAS
    15. Holcomb, Christopher, 2013. "Predictors of Well-Being in High Income, Industrialized Countries and Their Related Effects," MPRA Paper 53012, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    16. Anders Hayden & Jeffrey Wilson, 2016. "Is It What You Measure That Really Matters? The Struggle to Move beyond GDP in Canada," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 8(7), pages 1-18, July.
    17. repec:spr:soinre:v:133:y:2017:i:3:d:10.1007_s11205-016-1394-2 is not listed on IDEAS
    18. Brent Bleys, 2013. "The Regional Index of Sustainable Economic Welfare for Flanders, Belgium," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 5(2), pages 1-28, February.
    19. Nada Birciakova & Jana Stavkova & Veronika Antosova, 2015. "Evaluating Living Standard Indicators," DANUBE: Law and Economics Review, European Association Comenius - EACO, issue 3, pages 175-188, September.
    20. repec:gam:jsusta:v:10:y:2018:i:2:p:462-:d:131107 is not listed on IDEAS
    21. Vincenzo Patrizii & Anna Pettini & Giuliano Resce, 2017. "The Cost of Well-Being," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 133(3), pages 985-1010, September.
    22. Antonella Rita Ferrara & Rosanna Nisticò, 2014. "Measuring Well-Being In A Multidimensional Perspective: A Multivariate Statistical Application To Italian Regions," Working Papers 201406, Università della Calabria, Dipartimento di Economia, Statistica e Finanza "Giovanni Anania" - DESF.
    23. Greco, Salvatore & Ishizaka, Alessio & Resce, Giuliano & Torrisi, Gianpiero, 2017. "Is the Grass Always Greener on the Other Side of the fence? Composite Index of Well-Being Taking into Account the Local Relative Appreciations in Better Life Index," MPRA Paper 82718, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    24. Claudio Berardino & Giuseppe Mauro & Davide Quaglione & Alessandro Sarra, 2016. "Industrial Districts and Socio-economic Well-Being: An Investigation on the Italian Provinces Disparities," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 129(1), pages 337-363, October.

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