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Evaluating Alternatives to GDP as Measures of Social Welfare/Progress

  • Jeroen van den Bergh
  • Miklós Antal

Proposed alternatives to GDP as a measure of social welfare or human progress are briefly evaluated. Four main categories are considered, namely ISEW and GPI based on corrections of GDP, sustainable or green(ed) GDP, genuine savings/investments and composite indexes. All these alternatives turn out to suffer from various shortcomings. Nevertheless, several of them represent a considerable improvement over GDP information in approximating social welfare. This gives support to the idea that we should not wait to give less importance and attention to GDP (per capita) information in public decision-making until a perfect alternative indicator is available.

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Paper provided by WWWforEurope in its series WWWforEurope Working Papers series with number 56.

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Length: 19
Date of creation: Mar 2014
Date of revision:
Publication status: published
Handle: RePEc:feu:wfewop:y:2014:m:3:d:0:i:56
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Order Information: Postal: WWWforEurope Project Office Austrian Institute of Economic Research Arsenal Objekt 20 A-1030 Vienna
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  8. Kubiszewski, Ida & Costanza, Robert & Franco, Carol & Lawn, Philip & Talberth, John & Jackson, Tim & Aylmer, Camille, 2013. "Beyond GDP: Measuring and achieving global genuine progress," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 93(C), pages 57-68.
  9. Henri de Groot & Richard Nahuis & Paul Tang, 2004. "Is the American model Miss World? Choosing between the Anglo-Saxon model and a European-style alternative," CPB Discussion Paper 40, CPB Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis.
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  14. John Hartwick, 1976. "Intergenerational Equity and the Investing of Rents from Exhaustible Resources," Working Papers 220, Queen's University, Department of Economics.
  15. Lawn, Philip A., 2003. "A theoretical foundation to support the Index of Sustainable Economic Welfare (ISEW), Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI), and other related indexes," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 44(1), pages 105-118, February.
  16. Arrow, Kenneth & Bolin, Bert & Costanza, Robert & Dasgupta, Partha & Folke, Carl & Holling, C. S. & Jansson, Bengt-Owe & Levin, Simon & Maler, Karl-Goran & Perrings, Charles & Pimentel, David, 1995. "Economic growth, carrying capacity, and the environment," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(2), pages 91-95, November.
  17. Hamilton, Kirk & Clemens, Michael, 1999. "Genuine Savings Rates in Developing Countries," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 13(2), pages 333-56, May.
  18. Vellinga, Nico & Withagen, Cees, 1996. "On the Concept of Green National Income," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 48(4), pages 499-514, October.
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  20. John M. Hartwick, 1990. "Natural Resources, National Accounting and Economic Depreciation," Working Papers 771, Queen's University, Department of Economics.
  21. Lawn, Philip, 2013. "The failure of the ISEW and GPI to fully account for changes in human-health capital — A methodological shortcoming not a theoretical weakness," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(C), pages 167-177.
  22. Lawn, Philip A. & Sanders, Richard D., 1999. "Has Australia surpassed its optimal macroeconomic scale? Finding out with the aid of 'benefit' and 'cost' accounts and a sustainable net benefit index," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(2), pages 213-229, February.
  23. Asheim, Geir B, 1994. " Net National Product as an Indicator of Sustainability," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 96(2), pages 257-65.
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  25. Pillarisetti, J.Ram, 2005. "The World Bank's 'genuine savings' measure and sustainability," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(4), pages 599-609, December.
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