France change GDP indicators to include happiness and well being.

Last year Nicholas Sarkozy, unhappy with statistical research on how economies are measured, commissioned leading international economists Amartya Sen and Joseph Stiglitz to create a new measure for social and economic performance. The ‘Commission on the Measurement of Economic Performance and Social Progress’ (CMEPSP) has just published its final report. It calls for greater emphasis to put upon distribution of income as well as averages, to include healthcare, education, environmental stability and insecurity in measuring social progress . In shorthand, the new indicators will capture ‘happiness’ and ‘well being’.

Simultaneously to the publication of the report, Sarkozy has instructed the French statistical agency (equivalent to CSO) to add happiness to its measure of GDP, and has said it will lead the charge for new international measures. His personal reasoning for doing so may be attributed to a desire to narrow the gap between French and US GDP.  Thus, reconceptualizing the popular economic notion that France is a bit of a laggard. Including the French social security system in new social and economic indicators will contribute toward a move away from narrow market indicators that favour liberal market economies such as the US and the UK. The financial times article can be found here. And, an opinion piece by Jospeh Stiglitz can be found here.

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