Measuring GDP and beyond

Traditionally, official statistics use indicators such as Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to describe economic developments. However, GDP on its own says nothing about how people and our environment are faring. That's why we also need indicators that monitor social and environmental progress. The point of this broader perspective is to measure whether, and, if so, how our societies are progressing towards inclusiveness and ensuring wellbeing for our generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

As a result of this new approach to measuring broader aspects of our societies, new collections of statistical data are being established within the European Statistical System (ESS). Many of these are being used, or will be used, to construct indicators that measure progress and sustainable development in a comprehensive way appropriate, for instance, to the sustainable development goals.

Measuring progress, wellbeing and sustainable development – a new approach

In 2011, the European Statistical System Committee (ESSC) adopted a report on Measuring Progress, Well-being and Sustainable Development drawn up by the Sponsorship Group (co-chaired by Eurostat and INSEE, France´s National Instistue of Statistics and Economic Studies). The report summarises 50 measures which the Committee needs to take to implement previous recommendations. The Committee decided to work further on the following areas:

  • Multidimensional measurement of the quality of life;
  • Household perspective & distributional aspects of income, consumption & wealth (ICW);
  • Environmental sustainability.

While some of the 50 measures have now been archived, others remain a work in progress. We provide you here with a single entry point to all the data, publications and other information you may need for a comprehensive overview of the 'GDP and beyondinitiative. Our dedicated section explains how existing methods have been improved, so as to measure society's well-being, prosperity and progress better while also maintaining environmental sustainability.

For information on these improvements, click on one of the 3 priority areas in the left-hand menu. 

The graph below illustrates how the 3 priority areas are taken into account. The colour gradation shows that they are interlinked and sometimes overlap. For instance, a household's disposable income affects its consumption pattern. This affects the environment, which in turn affects people's well-being, and so on.

GDP and beyond image