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Well-being priority

A major step forward towards putting the measurement of well-being at the heart of policymaking was taken at the OECD’s World Forum on Measuring Well-Being for Policymaking and Development, a four-day international conference held in New Delhi in October.

Experts and policymakers from economic, environment, development, health and education backgrounds focused on the progress achieved in looking for new growth metrics and the way ahead for monitoring and analysing our changing world.

The OECD’s chief statistician, Martine Durand, said that new indicators were being advanced in a number of areas, such as the material conditions of households, in several quality of life domains and in the field of environmental accounting. But she added that technical and conceptual challenges remain.

Pointing out that India’s per capita GDP is a tenth of the OECD average, Montek Singh Ahluwalia, deputy chairman of India’s Planning Commission, emphasised a particular challenge facing developing nations:

“At India’s income level, ignoring GDP entirely would be impossible. But GDP simply measures goods produced. It does not measure the negative externalities, such as damage to the environment and bio-diversity, pollution, and overexhaustion of limited natural resources. These problems have now reached a scale where they cannot be ignored”.

A statement from the Global Forum underlined the need for a strengthened link between statistics, knowledge and policy, which requires engagement from civil society, the business community, statisticians, academics as well as politicians.

As Nobel Prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz–who has written on the subject for the OECD Observer–said at the forum, “metrics are important not just because they tell us how we are doing but because they serve as guides in policymaking”.

For more information on the World Forum on Measuring Well-Being for Policymaking and Development, including the concluding statement, visit www.oecd.org/site/ worldforumindia

See also: www.oecdbetterlifeindex.org and www.oecd.org/statistics/

©OECD Observer No 293 Q4 November 2012