Evaluating the Success of an Economy: Basic Human Needs and Wellbeing


Evaluating the Success of an Economy: Basic Human Needs and Wellbeing


Thursday 30 November 2023, 12:00 — 13:00


GDP is indispensable for economic management, but is a poor measure of the success of an economy. An alternative approach is to ask, what is it about an economy that is valuable? A possible answer is, the extent to which it meets everyone’s basic needs – the value system that underlies the Sustainable Development Goals, and is widely held according to survey evidence. The implied metric is the proportion unfulfilled: the proportion of residents who do not meet a specified target or threshold. It is sensitive to inequality, implying that a separate measure is unnecessary. The relevant outcomes of the economy (in the SNA sense plus unpaid labour) would be presented as a dashboard for public discussion and policy development, and as a single aggregate index. Aggregation would in principle depend on the magnitude of each item’s contribution to health and wellbeing, using the Population Attributable Fraction, an established epidemiological statistic.

Michael Joffe holds an Emeritus position at Imperial College London, and is an alumnus of Cambridge University, LSE and Birkbeck. He worked as an epidemiologist for many years, and now writes on topics in economics.

Chair: Mary O’Mahony, King’s College London
Discussant: Richard Heys, Office for National Statistics

Video Recording