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International Comparisons of Trends in Economic Well-being

Listed author(s):
  • Lars Osberg

    ()

  • Andrew Sharpe

    ()

This objective of this paper is to develop an index of economic well being for selected OECD countries for the period 1980 to 1996 and to compare trends in economic well being. We argue that the economic well being of a society depends on the level of average consumption flows, aggregate accumulation of productive stocks, inequality in the distribution of individual incomes and insecurity in the anticipation of future incomes. However, the weights attached to each component will vary, depending on the values of different observers. This paper argues that public debate would be improved if there is explicit consideration of the aspects of economic well-being obscured by average income trends and if the weights attached to these aspects were made visible and were open for discussion. The four components of economic well-being which are identified are: (1) effective per capita consumption flows, which includes consumption of marketed goods and services, and effective per capita flows of unmarketed goods and services and changes in leisure; (2) net societal accumulation of stocks of productive resources, including net accumulation of tangible capital and housing stocks, net accumulation of human capital and R investment, environmental costs, and net change in level of foreign indebtedness; (3) income distribution, as indicated by the Gini index of inequality, and depth and incidence of poverty; and (4) economic security from unemployment, ill health, single parent poverty and poverty in old age. Although estimates of the overall index and the subcomponents are presented for 1980- 1996 for 14 countries, the limited number of years for micro-data files from the Luxembourg Income Study make some estimates problematic - hence our major focus is trends in economic well-being in the USA, UK, Canada, Australia, Norway and Sweden. (Additional tables and charts in 242a.pdf.)

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File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1023/A:1015748220026
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Article provided by Springer in its journal Social Indicators Research.

Volume (Year): 58 (2002)
Issue (Month): 1 (June)
Pages: 349-382

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Handle: RePEc:spr:soinre:v:58:y:2002:i:1:p:349-382
DOI: 10.1023/A:1015748220026
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Order Information: Web: http://www.springer.com/economics/journal/11135

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  1. Osberg, Lars, 1997. "Economic growth, income distribution and economic welfare in Canada 1975-1994," The North American Journal of Economics and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 8(2), pages 153-166.
  2. Fortin, Nicole M, 1995. "Allocation Inflexibilities, Female Labor Supply, and Housing Assets Accumulation: Are Women Working to Pay the Mortgage?," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 13(3), pages 524-557, July.
  3. David G. Blanchflower & Andrew Oswald, 2000. "The Rising Well-Being of the Young," NBER Chapters,in: Youth Employment and Joblessness in Advanced Countries, pages 289-328 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Lars Osberg & Kuan Xu, 2000. "International Comparisons of Poverty Intensity: Index Decomposition and Bootstrap Inference," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 35(1), pages 51-81.
  5. Stephen Knack & Philip Keefer, 1997. "Does Social Capital Have an Economic Payoff? A Cross-Country Investigation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(4), pages 1251-1288.
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  9. Robert J. Blendon, 1997. "Bridging the Gap between the Public's and Economists' Views of the Economy," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 11(3), pages 105-118, Summer.
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  14. Milton Moss, 1973. "Introduction to "The Measurement of Economic and Social Performance"," NBER Chapters,in: The Measurement of Economic and Social Performance, pages 1-21 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Mary C. Daly & Greg J. Duncan, 1998. "Income inequality and mortality risk in the United States: is there a link?," FRBSF Economic Letter, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, issue oct3.
  16. John W. Kendrick, 1976. "The Formation and Stocks of Total Capital," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number kend76-1, Enero-Jun.
  17. Hamilton, Kirk, 1994. "Green adjustments to GDP," Resources Policy, Elsevier, vol. 20(3), pages 155-168, September.
  18. Phipps, Shelley & Garner, Thesia I, 1994. "Are Equivalence Scales the Same for the United States and Canada?," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 40(1), pages 1-17, March.
  19. Osberg, L. & Sharpe, A., 1998. "An Index of Economic Well-being for Canada," Department of Economics at Dalhousie University working papers archive 98-08, Dalhousie, Department of Economics.
  20. Eisner, Robert, 1989. "The Total Incomes System of Accounts," University of Chicago Press Economics Books, University of Chicago Press, edition 1, number 9780226196381, May.
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  22. Murphy, Brian B & Wolfson, Michael, 1998. "New Views on Inequality Trends in Canada and the United States," Analytical Studies Branch Research Paper Series 1998124e, Statistics Canada, Analytical Studies Branch.
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