Do the right thing...or pay later

...statistical indicators are important for designing and assessing policies aiming at advancing the progress of society
New York Times (NYT) reports Wednesday on the recent study on "new assessment tools that incorporate a broader concern for human welfare than just economic growth." Authored by Nobel prize-winning economists, Joseph E. Stiglitz and Amartya Sen, the report is their response to the President of the French Republic, Nicholas Sarkozy, "unsatisfied with the present state of statistical information about the economy and the society,...to create a Commission, subsequently called, The Commission on the Measurement of Economic Performance and Social Progress (CMEPSP)":
...to identify the limits of GDP as an indicator of economic performance and social progress, including the problems with its measurement; to consider what additional information might be required for the production of more relevant indicators of social progress; to assess the feasibility of alternative measurement tools, and to discuss how to present the statistical information in an appropriate way.
NYT considers the report as being "more critique than prescription" and "a treatise on the inadequacy of G.D.P. growth as an indication of overall economic health." The report itself states that "our measurement system [needs] to shift emphasis from measuring economic production to measuring people’s well-being."
  • When evaluating material well-being, look at income and consumption rather than production.
  • Emphasise the household perspective.
  • Consider income and consumption jointly with wealth
  • Give more prominence to the distribution of income, consumption and wealth.
  • Broaden income measures to non-market activities.

Report of the commission on the measurement of economic performance and social progress
(September 2009, pdf, 292pp/3.2MB)



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