Green economy  |  Publications  |  12.07.2011

Report of the commission on the measurement of economic performance and social progress

This report from an independent panel of international experts looks at the limits of GDP as an indicator of economic performance and social progress and considers alternative indicators.

The Commission on the measurement of economic performance and social progress was created at the request of French President Nicholas Sarkozy.
Statistical indicators are important for designing and assessing policies aiming at advancing the progress of society, as well as for assessing and influencing the functioning of economic markets. Their role has increased significantly over the last two decades.
Increasing concerns have been raised since a long time about the adequacy of current measures of economic performance, in particular those based on GDP figures. Moreover, there are broader concerns about the relevance of these figures as measures of societal well-being, as well as measures of economic, environmental, and social sustainability.
The Commission’s aim was to identify the limits of GDP as an indicator of economic performance and social progress, to consider what more relevant indicators of social progress could be based on, and to assess the feasibility of alternative measurement tools.

The report makes a distinction between assessments of current well-being and assessments of sustainability. It makes a number of recommendations for better measurements of economic performance, and argues that the time is ripe for our measurement system to shift emphasis from measuring economic production to measuring people’s well-being.
The Commission was chaired by Professor Joseph E. Stiglitz, professor Amartya Sen was Chair Adviser, and professor Jean-Paul Fitoussi was Coordinator of the Commission. The membership of the Commission was drawn from renowned experts from universities, governmental and intergovernmental organisations, from several countries.

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