More and more consumption does not directly lead to more and more quality of life: Especially when the basic economic needs are once met, immaterial values like health, relations and meaningfulness come to the fore. And, after all, the success of a national economy must be measured by the affluence and the quality of life of the citizens.
The usual method of measuring economic success is based in principle on one single material parameter expressed by the GDP. Aspects going beyond the pure production success such as quality of life, environmental richness, questions of social assets and distribution, are still not sufficiently taken into consideration.
- How can economic measuring instruments be extended to include affluence and quality of life?
- How can distribution and wealth aspects be better identified as useful or undesired consequences of our economic management?
- Which internationally comparable indicators offering a realistic alternative or supplement to the GDP data do already exist?
- Which data providing information beyond the existing statistics can be used additionally? Can, with relatively low expenditure in terms of time and money, data collections carried out at regular intervals be extended, and which questions/topics would have to be included in this case?
- How can subjective and individual parameters such as well-being be integrated in objective, mathematical indicators?
Quality of Life concepts and measurement of prosperity – material affluence is not everything
Mr. and Mrs. Little spent a very nice evening together. First they prepared together a delicious dinner; afterwards they played the favourite game backgammon until late after midnight.
They both enjoyed the evening very much, because time spent together has become rare for the couple in the course of the past few years. Mr. Little is still in seventh heaven when he reads the following day a very interesting article in his newspaper and concludes from that: Even though Mr. and Mrs. Little spent a great evening they have hardly contributed to the material wealth of the country and thus to the gross domestic product.
Instead it would have been better for the GDP to spend the evening at a restaurant, to cause an accident afterwards, and to drive home by taxi. An evening, which would hardly have made Mr. and Mrs. Little happier. Mr. Little doesn’t understand the world any more: How can a material damage contribute to the wealth of the nation, whereas factors like happiness, satisfaction or health have no or even a negative effect on it?