ONS looks to measure well-being outside GDP
Government policymaking could soon be guided by a new set of well-being indicators that look at more than just the gross domestic product, according to the Office for National Statistics.
The ONS has published findings from a survey as part of the first phase of a national programme to find alternative ways to measure economic growth.
The survey asked people what mattered most to them in life and what influenced their well-being. Respondents were also asked what issues they felt should be reflected in a measure of national well-being.
The 7900 responses showed health, good connections with friends and family, job satisfaction, economic security and the environment mattered most.
Jil Matheson, ONS statistician, said: “People of all ages highlighted the importance of family, friends, health, financial security, equality and fairness in determining well-being. This is about finding a robust way to measure how society is doing, to complement the GDP and other measures of economic growth.”
Ms Matheson said that for many years, GDP has been used as a proxy for well-being, despite it not being developed for that purpose. For instance, GDP measurements exclude factors such as household production, leisure, social relations and health, while they include economic factors that can reduce well-being. For instance, crime, war, pollution, and car accidents all cause people to spend money, which increases GDP.
Sir Gus O’Donnell, Cabinet secretary and head of the civil service, said the UK needed to come up with “better measures leading to better policies and better lives”.
He said: “The time has come for well-being to be incorporated into our policy and to make policy work.”
Steven Robinson, managing director for Bristol-based Clarke Robinson and Co, said: “There are far more important things in life than money. If everything were measured by means of money, this country should be the happiest in the world. You find the same thing with clients. Wealthy clients are not always the happiest.”