France backs attack on prosperity

In: Uncategorized

15 Sep 2009

The commission of eminent international economists appointed by French President Nicholas Sarkozy to report on measuring economic and social progress (PDF) has published its findings. I have not yet had time to read its 292 pages but, judging from the media coverage, it is broadly in line with what would be expected. Its call for better measures to measure social progress is, in the title of a previous article I have written on the topic, a sneaky attack on prosperity.

To quote the Financial Times’s take on its importance: “It is not the first of its type but it is perhaps the most comprehensive assessment of the limitations of existing data. It also makes clear the scope for improving policy and democratic debate based on good data, well presented, that relate to the issues – such as social cohesion, poverty and the environment – that people find important. It also has some top-level political support.”

The commission was chaired by Joseph Stiglitz and included, among others, Amartya Sen, Daniel Kahneman, Andrew Oswald, Robert Putnam, Nicholas Stern and Cass Sunstein.

To coincide with the report Joseph Stiglitz had an article in yesterday’s FT while Richard Layard reiterated his argument on happiness in the Guardian.

Meanwhile, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development has officially welcomed the report and is discussing the subject further at its World Forum in Korea at the end of October.

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