e-Frame European Framework for Measuring Progress

WP2 Beyond GDP

Leader: CBS
Participants:CFMR, OECD, NEF, UNISI, UoB, ZEW, UM
Starting time:January 2012
Objectives: • To take stock of the current “state of the art” in the field of measuring progress and sustainable development by statistical institutes and in the academic world. Identifying areas where more research is needed (and where other activities in this WP will focus on) and exploring the potential for harmonizing existing initiatives in this field of work in order to converge towards a statistical standard on measuring progress and sustainable development.
• To bring together experts from statistical world and academics on a number of topics which are relevant in the discussions concerning beyond GDP, but where no consensus has been reached yet. The topics to be treated in this WP will concern: subjective well-being, human capital and working conditions, social capital and intangible assets. The goal of the WP is to organize a high-level debate on relevant concepts and methodologies, but with the specific aim to arrive at (sets of) indicators which cover these areas.
• To provide input for the two large conferences that will be organized
Description of work:Task 1: Stocktaking of Measuring Progress and Sustainable Development (CBS)
A stocktaking report will be written by Statistics Netherlands drawing up an inventory of past and existing initiatives on GDP and beyond. This report will provide a thorough methodological survey of these initiatives and will also present an overview of datasets generated by statistical bureaus as well as international organizations, stressing the commonalities and differences between these datasets. Besides, the report will identify the main areas where additional work is required (both conceptual and methodological) to arrive at a statistical standard. Finally, this report will investigate to what extent existing statistical initiatives may converge towards a new statistical standard.

Task 2: Stocktaking of Subjective wellbeing (NEF)
The New Economic Foundation will prepare a report on the measurement of subjective wellbeing. The report, building particularly on the work by the OECD and Eurostat, will include the following: (1) review of the different approaches to measuring subjective well-being; (2) identification of surveys carried out in Europe incorporating measures of subjective well-being measurement; (3) selection of the most important of these and their description in terms of key features (e.g. sample size, mode, etc.); (4) identification of the well-being questions within promising surveys, paying attention to differences in wording and response codes. The report will consider challenges for harmonization of different surveys, including question ordering, cultural biases in response, and use and interpretability of the results. It will lead to recommendations for future research and for consideration in the Initial Conference. Further inputs will be provided by UNISI.

Task 3: Workshop on social capital (UM)
A workshop on social capital will be organized by the University Maastricht. This conference will bring together experts from academia and the statistical world. Papers will be presented by scholars from different disciplines in order to reflect the multidisciplinary nature of social capital. Besides, special attention will be paid as to how these theoretical insights can be transformed into an actual measurement of social capital and how these indicators can be fitted into an (enlarged) national accounting framework in coordination with WP3 activities.

Task 4: Workshop on human capital and labor markets (UoB)
The University of Birmingham will organize a workshop on the topic of working conditions which was highlighted in the Stiglitz Report as an important aspect of welfare. It will focus both on impacts of working conditions on the labour force in general and specifically on valuing the working conditions outcomes of human capital investment. Working conditions is a broad term that includes aspects of jobs (e.g. tenure, promotion opportunities etc.) how workers are treated (e.g. autonomy and flexibility) and non pecuniary benefits such as flexible arrangements to cover child care, work life balance. Representatives from international organisations such as the ILO, statistical institutes and academy will be invited and well known academics working in this area will be approached to present papers. Human capital yields returns both in non-pecuniary terms (working conditions), as well as pecuniary terms (wages). Both dimensions contribute to the “quality of life”. Yet the fact that wages are more easily measured means that research has concentrated on this aspect. The workshop will also consider the impact of including this wider definition of returns in measures of human capital.

Task 5: Workshop on intangible assets (ZEW)
ZEW will organize a workshop on the ways in which intangible assets are treated in the conventional national accounts and will discuss ways in which we can go beyond GDP incorporating these in a more satisfactory way. The objective of this workshop is to organize a debate focusing on how to: (1) refine the measure of GDP to account for non-market activities, publicly provided services, and quality improvements based on existing, standardized, and easily accessible data; propose the required methods appropriate for the task; (2) improve definitions and measurement of intangibles, and assess their private and social values; develop a quantification scheme to complement the GDP measure; (3) develop methods to measure intangible assets in cooperation with national statistical offices (NSOs) to guarantee feasibility of data collection; (4) enhance cooperation and provide coordination between several statistical authorities to preserve international comparison valuation scheme and (5) compare standard GDP measure with an augmented and refined GDP measure for sensitivity analysis.
    D2.1: Stocktaking report on subjective wellbeing (April 2012)
    D2.2: Workshop on social capital (May 2012)
    D2.3: Workshop on human capital and labour market (March 2013)
    D2.4: Workshop on intangible assets (May 2013)
    D2.5: Stocktaking Report of Measuring Progress and Sustainable Development (June 2014)