Sunday, September 13, 2009

Stiglitz on Measures of Well-Being

This is a very interesting by Joseph Stiglitz in the Financial Times.  Amartya Sen lurks in the background here.  ...

By Joseph StiglitzPublished: September 13 2009 19:59 | Last updated: September 13 2009 19:59
Apolitical leader attempting to promote the well-being of his citizens is pulled in different directions: he will be graded on economic performance but there are many other dimensions to the quality of life, including the state of the environment. While there is no single indicator that can capture something as complex as our society, the metrics commonly used, such as gross domestic product, suggest a trade-off: one can improve the environment only by sacrificing growth. But if we had a comprehensive measure of well-being, perhaps we would see this as a false choice. Such a metric might indicate an increase in wellbeing as the environment improved, even if conventionally measured output went down.
This was one of several motivations for Nicolas Sarkozy, president of France, when he established the International Commission on the Measurement of Economic Performance and Social Progress, which I chaired and for which Amartya Sen served as adviser and Professor Jean-Paul Fitoussi of the Institut d'Etudes Politiques served as co-ordinator, and whose final report is issued on Monday.
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