Bringing Alternative Indicators into Policy is a project looking at the barriers to, and opportunities for the use of Beyond GDP indicators in policy.
10 April 2014
For the past 40 years, GDP has dominated as the single most important metric for shaping how our economy is managed, setting economic growth as the primary means of providing prosperity and wellbeing. Yet it misses out on a huge amount of what actually occurs within our economy, being unable to differentiate between transactions which are societally beneficial, environmentally sustainable and socially just, from those that aren’t.
But what if we measured our economy on the things which actually matter? What if we could take wellbeing, social justice and environmental sustainability as the primary focus, and measure the success of our economies through metrics that put these at their heart? In response to these questions, many people have proposed that we abandon GDP and use better measures. Yet, despite numerous attempts, and the development of many innovative new metrics, none have been able to unseat GDP from its throne.
This report, produced by a cross-European partnership, BRAINPOoL, asks why. Combining case studies and interviews undertaken in seven European countries over two and half years, we ask what makes Beyond GDP indicators successful, what the barriers are, and what we need to do next.
Metrics to measure the success of an economy are designed and built with policy makers in mind, with the specific intent to shape and influence policy. Unfortunately, political demand for new indicators is low, and tends to come when they support the status quo or incremental change. In contrast, support at the grass-roots remains strong.
Successful metrics, in terms of their ability to be mainstreamed and influence policy, are found to be those which:
Examples include the Index of Sustainable Economic Welfare, which has influenced policy in the UK at both a national and local level, and the Ecological Footprint, shaping environmental impact targets in several countries.
Research with seven different groups across the European Union identified a range of barriers to the implementation of alternatives to GDP. These include:
From the work with our seven different groups, the report presents six recommendations for the Beyond GDP movement:
Click the button below to download the full report or click the links below to access additional research materials.
The German National Welfare Index and the BMU
The British Business Bank
The Welsh Government Sustainable Indicator Set
Sustainable Development in Midi-Pyrenees
The Rotterdam Sustainability Profile
Healthy City Indicators in Chrudim in the Czech Republic
Alternative Indicators in the OECD
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