From Gross Domestic Product to Wellbeing: How Alternative Indicators Can Help Connect the New Economy with the Sustainable Development Goals
In a 2014 issue of Nature, members of our research group called for abandoning the gross domestic product as the key indicator in economic policymaking. In this new article, we argue that a new post–gross domestic product economy focusing on wellbeing rather than material output is already emerging in the Anthropocene, thanks to the convergence of policy reforms and economic shifts. At the policy level, the Sustainable Development Goals require policymakers to protect ecosystems, promote greater equality, and focus on long-term equitable development. At the economy level, the provision of services has outpaced industrial production as the key driver of prosperity, with innovative business models optimizing the match between supply and demand and giving rise to a burgeoning “sharing economy”, which produces value to people while reducing output and costs. The economic transformation already underway is, however, delayed by an obsolete system of measurement of economic performance still dominated by the gross domestic product–based national accounts, which rewards the incumbent and disincentives the new. We show that a different approach to measuring wellbeing and prosperity is the “missing link” we need to connect recent evolutions in policy and the economy with a view to activating a sustainable development paradigm for a good Anthropocene.