That belief is increasingly being challenged. Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz argues that GDP does not measure the “existential crises” facing the world: “a climate crisis, an inequality crisis and a crisis in democracy”. A possible solution to the latter two challenges is to measure – and seek to improve – wellbeing. That requires action not only from governments, but from employers too.
Growing political awareness of wellbeing
In December, Katrin Jakobsdottir, Iceland’s prime minister, announced plans to emphasize “well-being and inclusive growth”. Her announcement follows a similar move from New Zealand, whose prime minister Jacinda Ardern unveiled a wellbeing budget in May 2019, prioritizing new spending on “mental health, child well-being, indigenous people and a low-carbon-emission economy”. A third politician, Scotland’s Nicola Sturgeon, has also emphasized the need for a “wellbeing economy”.
“Research suggests that people in wealthier countries are on average happier than those in poorer ones. Yet it is becoming clear that these citizens care about more than average growth,” Pinelopi Koujianou Goldberg, chief economist of the World Bank, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. “They value clean air and water, time with family, quality of work and life, and a more equitable distribution of income and wealth.”