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Beyond GDP

Measuring progress, true wealth, and well-being

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Well-being – illustrative example

The two graphs below illustrate two different indicators of well-being. One using a more traditional approach, namely an ‘objective’ measure of economic well-being, and another illustrating a more ‘subjective’ and general measure of well-being.

Economic well-being

The economic well-being of people is often illustrated by using a measure of the disposable income of households per capita. The following graph shows the real gross disposable income per capita (in Euros, latest available year 2009) across European countries.


Link to data source: Eurostat. NB: The figures have been adjusted for differences in price levels across countries (this adjustment is made using PPS. Look here for more information).

The evolution in disposable income is here illustrated for selected countries in the EU (and the average of all 27 EU Member States).


Link to data source: Eurostat

Life satisfaction

The above graph indicates that there are large variations in disposable incomes across European countries. But large disposable incomes do not necessarily mean a higher general satisfaction with life.

The following graph illustrates the level of “life satisfaction” in the EU. The data behind the graph comes from the New Economics Foundation (NEF) 2009 and are based on the Gallup World Poll. Responses to these surveys range from 0 to 10, where 0 is dissatisfied and 10 is satisfied. It has been demonstrated that individual’s responses correlate with the size and strength of their social networks, relationships status, educational level, disabilities, as well as their material well-being.


Link to data source: NEF