Measuring the Wealth Economy: Natural and Social Capital


Measuring the Wealth Economy: Natural and Social Capital

Research Seminar

Tuesday 11 February 2020, 16:00 — 17:00

Presented by: Matthew Agarwala (University of Cambridge)

Office for National Statistics, 1 Drummond Gate, London SW1V 2QQ

Official statistics are in a continuous state of flux.  This is to be expected. As economies evolve, so must our tools of measurement: innovation and adaptation in national statistics is necessary. But there is now widespread recognition that established systems of national accounting and their associated macroeconomic statistics provide only a partial (and potentially misleading) view of modern economies. Crucial omissions include issues of sustainability, human wellbeing, and inequality. In increasingly globalized, service-based economies – and against the backdrop of climate change – these blind spots could reduce the efficacy and relevance of official statistics. Put simply, the gap between national accounts and the real world is growing.

This talk will cover the research conducted by the Wealth Economy project at the Bennett Institute of Public Policy. The project is grounded in the wealth theory of sustainability and focuses on the measurement of natural and social capital to improve the evidence base for policy making. Matthew will provide an overview of the project’s key findings to date and offer some insights on what to watch for in 2020.

Matthew Agarwala is an environmental economist interested in wealth-based approaches to measuring and delivering sustainable development. His research is motivated by the belief that 20th century statistics can’t capture 21st century progress. Matthew is Research Leader for the Bennett Institute’s wealth economy project, which seeks to transform economic measurement to better reflect sustainability, inequality, and human wellbeing. Matthew regularly consults for governments and scientific organizations on topics of natural capital, ecosystem services, and sustainability. In addition to the Bennett Institute, Matthew has affiliations at the London School of Economics and the University of East Anglia. He maintains active research networks in Canada, Hong Kong, Germany, USA, Japan, and throughout the UK.

Video Recording