Category Archives: Beyond GDP

When Growth Outpaces Happiness

It is startling to find that Chinese people’s feelings of well-being have declined in a period of such momentous improvement in their economic lives.” (Source: NY Times)

Richard Easterlin in NY Times: China demonstrates that "growth alone, even at sustained, spectacular rates, has not produced the kind of life satisfaction crucial to a stable society — an experience that shows how critically important good jobs and a strong social safety net are to people’s happiness."

Another piece of evidence that it is time for a new economic and social development model. Read on the same subject “Does economic growth make you happy?”, a Times Literary Supplement review by Robert Skidelsky of the latest book “Economics after the crisis” written by Adair Turner.

For those in Brussels interested in this topic, there is a great conference organised by the ETUI on 15-16 October: “From ‘uneconomic’ growth to future well-being

Rio+20: Jeffrey Sachs on how business destroyed democracy and virtuous life

The world famous economist on corporate control, the search for happiness and why a multi-disciplinary approach is the only way to find solutions to sustainability challenges…” (Source: Guardian Sustainable Business blog)

Excellent article from the Guardian’s Sustainable Business blog.

Here are a few remarkable extracts from the interview with economist Jeffrey Sachs:

The other face of businesses is that they are too powerful in our societies. They write the rules, they pay the politicians, sometimes illegally and sometimes, via what is called legal, which is financing their campaigns or massive lobbying.

"Billions of dollars are spent and this is horrendous because if business writes the rules, it is not true their shareholder value is their value to society. It can reflect highly destructive practices which the politicians turn their eyes away from because of the political power companies hold. This has got completely out of control and is leading to the breakdown of modern democracy."

While social networking has the power to break the existing power structures, Sachs also recognises its power to enslave us further to consumerism.”

L’insoutenable indicateur global de richesses (IWI) des Nations Unies

Very critical analysis by French economist Jean Gadrey of the latest UNEP tool to measure sustainability, the Inclusive Wealth Index. (Source: Alternatives Economiques blog)

Gadrey’s conclusion: "Un indicateur de plus dans le concert international. Un de plus aussi pour nous faire prendre des vessies insoutenables pour des lanternes vertes. Il figure dans un énorme rapport mis au point par des composants ou des satellites des Nations Unies, dont le PNUE (programme des Nations Unies pour l’environnement), institution dont les évolutions récentes sont inquiétantes. On a parlé, y compris sur ce blog, de « capture » des Nations Unies par le monde des affaires. Ici, il s’agit plutôt de capture par les méthodes des économistes néoclassiques."

New Inclusive Wealth Index shows lower growth and future risks for major economies

"Some large economies show significantly lower growth when natural assets such as forests and water are factored into growth indicators, an index showed on Sunday, a few days before an international sustainability summit starts in Rio de Janeiro." (Source: Reuters)

Interesting new report from two of the UN’s environmental institutions shows that the Beyond GDP debate needs more and faster progress.

Full report and the summary for policymakers are available via the IHDP web site.

What Is the Limiting Factor? Herman Daly on uneconomic growth

The elite-owned media, the corporate-funded think tanks, the kept economists of high academia, and the World Bank — not to mention Gold Sacks and Wall Street — all sing hymns to growth in perfect unison, and bamboozle average citizens.” (Source:

Must-read reflections on the future of growth by the father of ecological economics and former World Bank economist Herman Daly.

Economic logic says to invest in and economize on the limiting factor. Economic logic has not changed; what has changed is the limiting factor. It is now natural resources, not capital, that we must economize on and invest in. Economists have not recognized this fundamental shift in the pattern of scarcity.”

At U.N. Happiness Summit, A Coal Pile in the Ballroom

The fact that economists were at the podium questioning the equivalence of happiness and GDP is a hopeful sign, a sign of a deep crack in the foundation of the economics discipline. But it is one thing to say there is more to happiness than economic growth; it is quite another to propose that economic growth is inimical to generalized happiness.” (Source:

Great article on the recent UN happiness conference organised by Bhutan. The author questions GDP but is also critical of some of the Beyond GDP ideas.

La croissance verte selon l’OCDE : la pensée unique du capitalisme vert

Excellent critical analysis by French economist Jean Gadrey of the 2011 OECD report "Towards Green Growth: Monitoring Progress – OECD Indicators". (Source: Alternatives Economiques)

"Ce qui est mis en avant c’est la poursuite de la croissance à l’infini, en y intégrant la nature comme nouveau grand facteur de production (ce qui est le cas depuis toujours, mais on vise à monter d’un cran dans son exploitation productive) et comme champ d’investissement prioritaire d’un capitalisme vert ou verdi."

Leur » croissance verte rabat tout sur l’économie, dont celle de l’exploitation sans vraie limite de la nature. Elle ne nous éloigne pas du « mur » vers lequel nous fonçons, elle maintient le pied enfoncé sur l’accélérateur : la croissance.”

Talking happiness

"Once it becomes clear that further GDP growth will be ever more difficult to achieve, national leaders will desperately need ways to make life tolerable for their increasingly restive constituents. It’s plain that environmental, psychological, and social well-being must be the new goal, and we can thank the government of Bhutan for realizing this and blazing a trail that others may follow." (Source: Energy Bulletin)

Good resumee by Richard Heinberg of the UN’s special conference on wellbeing and the need to define a new economic paradigm.

The final outcome document of the UN conference and interventions and presentations during the conference are available from the special Bhutan website “Wellbeing & Happiness. Defining a new economic paradigm”.

China’s rapid economic growth means population is ‘wealthier but unhappier’

The average personal income in China has risen by five per cent a year since the mid 1990s. Yet according to experts, this recent wealth does not equate with personal happiness.” (Source: Science Daily)

A new research project confirms that fast economic growth does not automatically translate into more life happiness as rising social inequality and environmental pressures create tensions in Chinese economy.

The Economy of Gross National Happiness

On April 2, the UN hosted a High-Level Meeting on Happiness and Well-Being. Conceived by the government of the Kingdom of Bhutan, and supported by 68 UN member states, the meeting was conducted against the tumultuous backdrop of global financial crisis, catastrophic climate change, widespread poverty, and the rise of neuroeconomics – factors that have jolted the status quo and brought economics to a crossroads.”

Good article in Project Syndicate on the changing paradigm from (un)economic growth to a multidimensional model of sustainable welfare economics, founded in human well-being. If political elites would only understand that this is the real alternative to the destructive and anti-social austerity policies now in place.

Read on the same topic also:


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