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Beyond GDP

Measuring progress, true wealth, and well-being

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  • Janez Potočnik: "We need to escape the handcuffs of GDP"
    Janez Potočnik, former European Commissioner for Environment in his speech at the Conference "Moving beyond GDP in European economic governance", 10 October 2014
  • José Barroso: "The appropriate choice of indicators is key to boost our understanding of the complexity of our diverse societies within the European Union, to better communicate on it, and to better respond to new policy needs as for example with the "GDP and beyond" initiative to include measurement of well being."
    José Barroso, former President of the European Commission, 2010
  • Ban Ki-moon: "We need to move beyond gross domestic product as our main measure of progress, and fashion a sustainable development index that puts people first"
    UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (Remarks to the High-level Delegation of Mayors and Regional Authorities, New York, USA, 23 April 2012)
    > Read the remarks (html)
  • Herman E. Daly und Joshua Farley: "Even if we can never quantify [satisfaction or happiness]...,as precisely as we currently quantify GNP,...perhaps it is better to be vaguely right than precisely wrong."
    Herman E. Daly und Joshua Farley, authors of Ecological Economics: Principles and Applications. (2003), page 234.
  • Robert Kennedy: "GDP does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education, or the joy of their play"
    Robert Kennedy in a speech at the University of Kansas on 18 March 1968
    > Watch video (2:12 min.)
  • Joseph Stiglitz: "GDP tells you nothing about sustainability"
    Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz proposes alternatives to Gross Domestic Product as a measurement of national economic success, 2008 (publ. 2010)
    > Watch video (8:06 min.)
  • Amartya Sen: "HDI is people-centered … GDP is commodity-centered"
    Nobel-Prize-winning economist Amartya Sen in an interview regarding the 20th anniversary of the Human Development Index, 2010
    > Download interview (pdf, 66 KB)
  • David Cameron: "It's time we admitted that there's more to life than money, and it's time we focused not just on GDP but on GWB - general wellbeing"
    British Prime Minister David Cameron at the Google Zeitgeist Europe conference in May 2006
    > Read article from BBC (html)
  • Angel Gurría: "Improving the quality of our lives should be the ultimate target of public policies. But public policies can only deliver best fruit if they are based on reliable tools to measure the improvement they seek to produce in our lives."
    OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría in his introductory remarks at OECD Forum 2011, first Session on Measuring Progress on 24 May 2011 in Paris, France.
    > Read speech (html)
  • José Barroso: "The appropriate choice of indicators is key to boost our understanding of the complexity of our diverse societies within the European Union, to better communicate on it, and to better respond to new policy needs as for example with the "GDP and beyond" initiative to include measurement of well being."
    José Barroso, President of the European Commission, in his opening speech at the Eurostat Conference "Statistics for policy making: Europe 2020" on 10 March 2011 in Brussels.
    > Download speech (pdf, 47 KB)
  • Pier Carlo Padoan: "Much of the statistics and indicators that we routinely produce are not looking at what truly matters to people"
    Pier Carlo Padoan, Deputy Secretary-General and Chief Economist, OECD in speech during the Eurostat Conference on "Statistics for policy making: Europe 2020" on 10 March 2011 in Brussels
    > Download speech (pdf, 103 KB)
  • Nicolas Sarkozy: "Nothing is more destructive than the gap between people's perceptions of their own day-to-day economic well-being and what politicians and statisticians are telling them about the economy"
    French president Nicolas Sarkozy at the unveiling of the Stiglitz Report in Paris on 14 September 2009
    > Read more
  • Angela Merkel: "We must learn new ways to define the concept of growth for the 21 century"
    German Chancellor Angela Merkel in video podcast issued on 6 February 2010.
    > View video podcast (in German)
    > Read article from taz.die tageszeitung (html, in German)
  • Olli Rehn: "These initiatives ['GDP and Beyond' and the so-called "Stiglitz-Sen-Fitoussi Report"], both published in autumn 2009, have challenged official statisticians to develop new indicators that better describe our environmental challenges, the quality of life of households and the distributional aspects of income."
    Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs, Olli Rehn summing up the conclusions of the Eurostat Conference on "Statistics for policy making: Europe 2020" on 11 March 2011 in Brussels
    > Download speech (pdf, 18 KB)
  • Janez Potočnik: "We need to better measure our natural capital, its eco-system services, in physical terms and in monetary terms"
    Potočnik, European Commissioner for Environment, in speech during the Eurostat Conference on "Statistics for policy making: Europe 2020" on 10 March 2011 in Brussels
    > Download speech (pdf, 67 KB)
  • Hazel Henderson: "GDP has outlived its usefulness"
    Hazel Henderson in the article “What's Wrong with Market Economics and GDP?”, 2008
    > Download article (html)
  • Stavros Dimas: "GDP was not intended to be a measure of wellbeing"
    Stavros Dimas, former European Commissioner for Environment. Press conference in connection with the presentation of the EU Roadmap on 8 September 2009
    > Watch video (3:03 min.)
  • José Manuel Barroso: "It is not enough for us to talk about freedom, climate change, health, security and the environment. We need widely accepted communication tools that show progress in these fields. And that progress can only be measured with suitable indicators. So it's time to go beyond the tools developed for the very different world of the 1930s. It's time to go beyond today's confusing surfeit of unorganised data. It's time to go beyond GDP."
    President of the European Commission in connection with the Beyond GDP Conference on 19-20 November 2007.
  • Hans-Gert Pöttering: "Major negative effects of globalisation such as climate change pose new risks not only to our eco-system but to our entire economies and eventually our societies as a whole. This is why new indicators of wealth are needed, and the European Parliament - the EU's directly-elected body which is answerable to the citizens - can play a key role in helping to shape the required broad democratic consensus."
    President of the European Parliament Mr Hans-Gert Pöttering in connection with the Beyond GDP Conference on 19-20 November 2007.
  • Ashok Khosla: "If we are to end gross disparity and poverty, reduce rampant climate change and species extinction, avoid massive depletion and destruction of resources and pre-empt the resulting overshoot and collapse of societies, we must go well beyond simplistic indicators such as the gross domestic product that have today become the grossest mismeasures of progress."
    Co-President of the Club of Rome Mr Ashok Khosla in connection with the Beyond GDP Conference on 19-20 November 2007.
  • Pier Carlo Padoan: "The OECD believes better statistical information is an essential support to democratic governance. So yes, the OECD thinks it is time to move beyond GDP to provide better and more useful information. We believe that by using GDP and indicators covering other aspects of our life, it is possible to develop new measures of progress, and we are ready to support the growing global movement which shares these views. This is why we have launched a Global Project on "Measuring the Progress of Societies".
    Deputy Secretary-General of the OECD Mr Pier Carlo Padoan in connection with the Beyond GDP Conference on 19-20 November 2007.
  • HE Chief Emeka Anyaoku: "What we currently measure as development is a long way away from the EU and the world's stated aim of sustainable development. This is because economic decisions routinely ignore natural capital expenditure. Economic indicators are essential, but without natural resource accounting, ecological deficits will go unnoticed and ignored. It is as if we spent our money without realizing that we are liquidating the planet's capital."
    President of the WWF HE Chief Emeka Anyaoku in connection with the Beyond GDP Conference on 19-20 November 2007.
  • Joseph Stiglitz: "No one would look just at a firm's revenues to assess how well it was doing. Far more relevant is the balance sheet, which shows assets and liability. That is alos true for a country."
    Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz on GDP and learning from business, Foreign Affairs, 2005.
  • Paul Samuelson: "Without measures of economic aggregates like GDP, policymakers would be adrift in a sea of unorganized data. The GDP and related data are like beacons that help policymakers steer the economy toward the key economic objectives".
    Paul Samuelson in Samuelson and Nordhaus (1995).
  • Robert McNamara: Progress measured by a single measuring rod, the GNP, has contributed significantly to exacerbate the inequalities of income distribution."
    President of the World Bank Mr Robert McNamara on GDP and social equity in 1973.
  • Simon Kuznets: "Distinctions must be kept in mind between quantity and quality of growth, between its costs and return, and between the short and the long term. Goals for more growth should specify more growth of what and for what."
    Simon Kuznets, the creator of GDP, in 1962.
  • Simon Kuznets: "The welfare of a nation can scarcely be inferred from a measurement of national income".
    Simon Kuznets on GDP and well-being in 1934.
  • Quotes and interesting facts