On the measurement of social progress and well being: some further thoughts
Two years after the delivery of the report on The Measurement of Economic Performances and Social Progress (Stiglitz-Sen-Fitoussi),this paper provides some further reflections on the subject. Since 2008, when the work of the Commission began, the world has experienced several dramatic events which all call into question our measurement systems and the policies which were grounded on them: the financial crisis of 2007-2008, the grave events in Japan, the Sovereign debt crisis, and the revolutions in the Arabic world. In particular, the Japanese earthquake and its aftermath underlines three central shortcomings of our metrics: the measurement of the economic product,the measurement of well being, and the measurement of sustainability. For economists, these concerns are especially important, because we often rely on statistical (econometric analyses) to make inferences about what are good policies. Those inferences are only as reliable as the metrics that they are based on. Our statistical systems should tell us whether or not what we are doing is sustainable, economically, environmentally, politically, or socially and whether proposed policies will in fact enhance well-being . There would be little sense in pursuing policies aimed at increasing some widely used metric like GDP ifsuch policies lead to a decrease in well being.
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