As political leaders gather for a second conference at the European Parliament on how to move “beyond growth”, we, the undersigned academics and civil society organisations, see the geopolitical crisis as an opportunity to disengage from the socially and ecologically harmful growth competition and instead embrace a wellbeing cooperation.
The solutions to these economic and temporal inequalities should be rooted in the goal that all workers, irrespective of gender, are able to devote equal time to care and other unpaid work.
It remains to be seen whether we will be able to effectively tackle the major challenges of nature and the environment in time. But the opportunities to do so will undoubtedly increase significantly.
Last May, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern released a budget to improve the “wellbeing” of its citizens rather than focusing on productivity and GDP growth. And not so coincidentally, New Zealand has one of the best coronavirus outcomes of any democracy in the world.
The work on progress indicators is all well and good, especially in challenging the political priority given to GDP. However, over the years I have grown more sceptical of the possibility of measuring, accurately and fully, the state of nations and the wellbeing of their people.
Instead of proposing new “sustainable” or green-washed development frameworks, it seems necessary to propose new alternatives to the concept of development itself.
The implications of the 2008 crash are still being keenly felt by those at the bottom of the economic pile, while the wealth of those who arguably created the conditions for the crash has surged to a point where in 2017, a new billionaire was created every two days, the biggest increase in history.
We need an ambition that relates to people’s daily experiences, not the growth of abstract numbers. This is the vision of a ‘wellbeing economy’: an economy that promotes wellbeing for people and planet. It’s an economy that meets the needs of all within planetary boundaries. It is fair, sufficient and ecologically sustainable.
It’s not often that a scientist gets to use the words love, creativity, and wisdom in a paper, especially when writing about economics. Perhaps that’s because economics, the dismal science, is obsessed with dismal systems — make that abysmal systems, relative to need.
It’s now eight years since David Cameron first declared that “it’s time we focused not just on GDP, but on GWB – general well-being” and in that time the UK has become a global leader by measuring national well-being – but we have yet to make the leap from measurement to action.