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Well-being
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A Modest Challenge to GDP Reforms
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Mitsuhiko Iyoda, World Economics, June 2019
This paper explores the importance and possibility of GDP reform by examining the weaknesses of the current GDP concept. The GDP concept itself involves flawed metrics; there are more effective measures of economic and societal well-being. Here we limit our argument to economic well-being. The weaknesses of GDP can be broadly divided into two primary categories: market workability and the GDP framework. We present four types of GDP reform, among which, we consider further, is a modest improvement on current GDP. If not dealt with, the misleading aspects of GDP are likely to produce a misguided economic growth strategy and reduce the likelihood of a ‘positive sum’ result.
What Makes Maddison Right
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Jan Luiten van Zanden & Debin Ma, World Economics, September 2017
The ‘Great Divergence debate’ in economic history relates to the question of when China fell behind the levels of well-being in Western Europe. A recent paper published in this journal argues that existing historical data cannot answer this question and criticizes estimates of Angus Maddison of GDP per capita based on limited evidence. The authors believe, in contrast, that critiques, assessments and summaries on the state of the Great Divergence debate even if flawed are in the original spirit of the Maddison research. Maddison’s work is less about right or wrong than about trying to achieve better or best estimates by overcoming the current constraint on data and methodologies over time.
Measuring Natural Capital
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Dariana Tani, World Economics, December 2014
The purpose of this paper is to highlight the importance of establishing a system of natural capital accounting. Natural capital is integral to the economy and yet it is routinely taken for granted because the goods and services it provides are generally freely available. The consequence is that without prices, these resources are not being allocated efficiently within the economy and opportunities for significant gains in well-being and the possibility of long-term future growth are being lost. Recent works by the World Bank and the Inclusive Wealth Report have provided a wealth accounting framework, which gives more emphasis to environmental assets; however, due to data and methodological limitations, they inevitably failed to capture all assets of natural capital as defined by the Natural Capital Committee’s (NCC) State of Natural Capital Report.
Measuring Multidimensional Vulnerability in India
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Swati Dutta & Lakshmi Kumar, World Economics, September 2014
This paper examines the relationship between multidimensional poverty and multidimensional vulnerability. Unlike poverty, which describes the status of a household at a point of time, vulnerability captures the likelihood of a household falling into poverty, given the current status of the household. The paper has used data from the India Human Development Survey, 2005, employing a multidimensional measure both at the all-India level and the state level. The results indicate the superiority of the multidimensional measure over the one-dimensional income measure because policy can be pointed towards addressing the dimension of poverty that is lacking and that is the cause of some states’ vulnerability to poverty.
Measuring Nations’ Economic Performance
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F. Gerard Adams, World Economics, December 2009
The Report of the Commission on Economic Performance and Social Progress considers the issues of establishing a broader measure of human well-being than the per capita GDP currently used. The report evaluates the possibilities for expanding the GDP concept and other measures of well-being, and for evaluating sustainability. The Commission recognises that it will not be possible to rely on one measure, recommending the use of a dashboard of various measures, including adjusted net saving.
The Economics of Happiness
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Carol Graham, World Economics, September 2005
The economics of happiness is an approach to assessing welfare that combines economists’ techniques with those of psychologists, and relies on more expansive notions of utility than does conventional economics. Research based on this approach highlights the factors—in addition to income—that affect well-being. It is well suited to informing questions in areas where revealed preferences provide limited information, such as the welfare effects of inequality and of macroeconomic policies such as inflation and unemployment. One such question is the gap between economists’ assessments of the aggregate benefits of the globalization process and the more pessimistic assessments that are typical of the general public. The paper summarizes research on some of these questions, and in particular on those relevant to globalization, poverty, and inequality.
A Multi-coloured GDP -or No New GDP at All?
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Horst Zimmermann, World Economics, September 2000
This is a reply to Giles Atkinson’s article ‘Re-thinking Economic Progress’ that appeared in the first issue of World Economics (Vol. 1, No. 1, January – March 2000). Atkinson discussed proposals for the construction of ‘green’ alternatives to Gross Domestic Product (GDP). In the same issue, Amanda Rowlatt in her article ‘Extending the UK National Accounts’, discussed the role of ‘satellite accounts’, including measures of effects on the environment. Professor Zimmermann’s contention is that the concept of a ‘green GDP’ would lead to a one-sided measure which cannot be used for the many purposes for which normal GDP as a comprehensive measure can be used. A GDP corrected for depletion of environmental stocks would have to be supplemented by one corrected for changes in human capital, another one dealing with health capital, etc. Completing the set leads to the older concept of Net Economic Welfare or something similar. Only this would again be a comprehensive measure and could replace GDP.
Extending the UK National Accounts
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Amanda Rowlatt, World Economics, March 2000
The national accounts measure economic activity. The UK is developing "satellite accounts" which use the framework of the national accounts but aim to quantify other aspects of living standards. This article starts by comparing satellite accounts with the use of indicators to measure the quality of life. It then reports on progress with the UK environmental accounts, and with the household accounts, which measure the productive unpaid work done in the home. It concludes with a discussion of the scope for developing a wider range of satellite accounts for the UK.


Re-thinking Economic Progress
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Giles Atkinson, World Economics, March 2000
Most national governments have pledged a commitment to sustainable development. The transformation of these pledges into policy is a formidable challenge. Of particular interest are proposals for the construction of green alternatives to Gross Domestic Product (GDP), which it is hoped will provide policy-makers with a consistent and summary signal of "true" trends in the economy both now and into the future. This paper reviews the green accounting debate over the past decade. the author argues that, while initial expectations have, at times, been overstated, there are encouraging signs for policy-makers attempting to make sense of their commitments to sustainable development. One such indication is the increasing emphasis on improved measures of saving, providing a better link between actions in the present and their implications for the future.



Displaying: 1-9 of 9