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Beyond Gdp: Conceptual Grounds of Quantification. The Case of the Index of Economic Well-Being (IEWB)

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  • Géraldine THIRY

    () (UNIVERSITE CATHOLIQUE DE LOUVAIN, Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales (IRES) AND Saint Louis University)

Abstract

Today, though the need for new indicators of progress is broadly recognized, no consensus has arisen on a successor to GDP. Various – often conflicting – quantification options are observed. On one side, one finds those who want to improve current indicators, by completing or adjusting them, within the logic from which they have emerged. On the other are those for whom new indicators of progress are liable, if well-designed, to catalyze a transition toward a new model of society, less reliant on growth. Up to now, these axiological issues related to quantification choices, though crucial for "what we measure affects what we do", are scattered among the debates and do not appear clearly to the stakeholders to the debates. Our paper aims therefore to offer a more systematic understanding of the normative impacts of generic quantification choices. To that end, we analyse the Index of Economic Well-Being (IEWB). Though this index is an example of creativeness at a given time, its lack of success in the public sphere leads us to further investigate the coherence between its foundations and its purpose(s). For each dimension of this composite indicator, the analysis – which is intended to be easily transposed to other indicators – sheds light on the variety of normative implications resulting from its conceptual and methodological apparatus. This concomitantly leads us to question in depth the relevance of some theoretical hypotheses underlying the IEWB to coherently account for economic, social and ecological issues. The paper's conclusion suggests that alternative conceptual frameworks, such as ecological economics and the capability approach, are liable to carry more coherent indicators of progress.²²

Suggested Citation

  • Géraldine THIRY, 2011. "Beyond Gdp: Conceptual Grounds of Quantification. The Case of the Index of Economic Well-Being (IEWB)," Discussion Papers (IRES - Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales) 2011048, Université catholique de Louvain, Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales (IRES).
  • Handle: RePEc:ctl:louvir:2011048
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    1. repec:spr:soinre:v:133:y:2017:i:1:d:10.1007_s11205-016-1359-5 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Andrzej K. Koźmiński & Katarzyna Piotrowska & Krzysztof Zagórski & Adam Noga, 2015. "Operationalization and Estimation of Balanced Development Index for Poland 1999-2016," Statistics in Transition new series, Główny Urząd Statystyczny (Polska), vol. 16(3), pages 461-478, September.
    3. Angelica-Nicoleta NECULĂESEI, 2015. "About Welfare In Cultural Context," SEA - Practical Application of Science, Fundația Română pentru Inteligența Afacerii, Editorial Department, issue 7, pages 407-414, April.
    4. repec:spr:soinre:v:133:y:2017:i:3:d:10.1007_s11205-016-1401-7 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. 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.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Economic Well-being; Indicators; Sustainability; Sociology of quantification;

    JEL classification:

    • A - General Economics and Teaching
    • B4 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - Economic Methodology
    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • I32 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Measurement and Analysis of Poverty
    • Q56 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environment and Development; Environment and Trade; Sustainability; Environmental Accounts and Accounting; Environmental Equity; Population Growth

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