Thursday, June 14, 2012

Why measure subjective well-being? - OECD Observer

Why measure subjective well-being? - OECD Observer

©CEP

The search for measures of progress that might replace GDP is a timely and necessary one, but only a single metric will do the trick. 
What an achievement! Only eight years ago the OECD first asked “What is progress?”. Since then we have had three major OECD conferences on the subject and now a major OECD initiative on the international measurement of subjective well-being. Last year Britain became the first advanced country to take its own measurements, and there is worldwide demand for an alternative to GDP as a way of assessing how we are doing.
But what should the alternative be? Until now both the OECD and the UK government have, probably wisely, been pulling their punches. They have been saying that many things are important–subjective well-being, yes, but also education, health, law and order, governance, income, and so on. Visitors to the OECD Better Life Initiative website are invited to choose their own weights in deciding how much each of these matter. But, if so, what is happening may not make much difference. After all, we have had the Social Indicators movement for about fifty years, during which time the grip of GDP as the talisman of national performance became ever stronger. We shall only displace the use of GDP by providing a single, convincing alternative.

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