How moving beyond GDP will improve well-being and sustainability
Never before in human history have we produced so much data, and this empirical revolution has shaped economic research and policy profoundly. But are we measuring, and thus managing, the right things—those that will help us solve the real social, economic, political, and environmental challenges of the twenty-first century? In Measuring Tomorrow, Eloi Laurent argues that we need to move away from narrowly useful metrics such as gross domestic product and instead use broader ones that aim at well-being, resilience, and sustainability. By doing so, countries will be able to shift their focus away from infinite and unrealistic growth and toward social justice and quality of life for their citizens.
The time has come for these broader metrics to become more than just descriptive, Laurent argues; applied carefully by private and public decision makers, they can foster genuine progress. He begins by taking stock of the booming field of well-being and sustainability indicators, and explains the insights that the best of these can offer. He then shows how these indicators can be used to develop new policies, from the local to the global.
An essential resource for scholars, students, and policymakers, Measuring Tomorrow covers all aspects of well-being—including health, education, and the environment—and incorporates a broad range of data and fascinating case studies from around the world: not just the United States and Europe but also China, Africa, the Middle East, and India.
Eloi Laurent is senior economist at the Sciences Po Centre for Economic Research (OFCE) in Paris. He also teaches at Stanford University and has been a visiting professor at Harvard University. He is the author or editor of fifteen books.
List of Illustrations xi
Introduction: Values, Data, and Indicators 1
Part I The New Empirical Order: How Indicators (Mis)rule Our Economic World
1 The Ascent of “Datanomics”: The Case of the European Union 15
2 Good and Bad Indicators: The Case of GDP 20
Part II Mapping and Measuring Well-Being and Sustainability in the Twenty-First Century
3 Income 33
4 Work 47
5 Health 55
6 Education 66
7 Happiness 76
8 Trust 88
9 Institutions 98
10 Material Flows 106
11 State of the Biosphere 118
12 Environmental Performance 128
13 Sustainability 136
Part III Managing the Well-Being and Sustainability Transition
14 Valuing What Counts 157
15 Engaging Citizens 165
16 Building Tangible and Resilient Transitions 170
Conclusion: Beyond (the End of) Growth: Grasping Our Social-Ecological World 191