National accounts of well-being: Bringing real wealth onto the balance sheet

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Publisher/Organizer: New Economic Foundations
Publication date: 2009
Language: English


“National Accounts of Well-being presents proposal to guide the direction of modern societies and the lives of people who live in them. It demonstrates why national governments should directly measure people’s subjective well-being: their experiences, feelings and perceptions of how their lives are going. It calls for these measures to be collected on a regular, systematic basis and published as National Accounts of Well-being. The measures are needed because the economic indicators which governments currently rely on tell us little about the relative success or failure of countries in supporting a good life for their citizens.

This report lays out a framework for developing National Accounts of Well-being to provide:

  • A new way of assessing societal progress. National Accounts of Well-being, by explicitly capturing how people feel and experience their lives, help to redefine our notions of national progress, success and what we value as a society.
  • A cross-cutting and more informative approach to policy-making. The challenges now facing policy-makers, including the ‘triple crunch’ of financial crisis, climate change and oil price shocks, are unprecedented. Silo working has long been criticised; now – when the need for systemic change is clear and present – it must be overcome. National Accounts of Well-being – by capturing population well-being across areas of traditional policy-making, and looking beyond narrow, efficiency-driven economic indicators – provide policy-makers with a better chance of understanding the real impact of their decisions on people’s lives.
  • Better engagement between national governments and the public. By resonating with what people care about, National Accounts of Well-being provide opportunities for national governments to reconnect with their citizens and, in doing so, to address the democratic deficit now facing many European nations.”