Barriers and Opportunities for Alternative Measures of Economic Welfare
Authors: Brent Bleys, Alistair Whitby
Abstract: This paper explores a number of barriers that alternative measures of economic welfare face by interviewing (potential) users of these measures in both Belgium and Germany. The barriers are grouped into 3 categories: context factors, indicator factors and user factors. Context factors are embedded in the policy context and agendas that shape the environment in which an indicator percolates, indicator factors depend on specific characteristics of the indicators, while user factors relate to the level of experience and expertise of the users of indicators and the institutional culture and uses in which the user operates. Drawing on the different barriers that were reported, 4 opportunities are identified in order to increase the policy value of the alternative measures of economic welfare: harmonizing and updating the methodological framework, extending macroeconomic models to include a wider range of welfare-related items, improving the communication on the measures and promoting indicator and researcher entrepreneurship.
Exploring conceptual and methodological improvements to the Index of Sustainable Economic Welfare (ISEW)
Authors: Pedro Beça, Rui Santos
Abstract: The ISEW is one of the indicators that have assumed a relevant role in the discussion of alternatives to the GDP. The development of a harmonized theoretical framework for the computation of the ISEW is a fundamental aspect to improve its recognition and acceptance by policy and decision makers, statistical offices, as well as international institutions. A new theoretical framework for the ISEW is proposed, which is intended to overcome some of its main shortcomings. The changes introduced will also allow for a direct comparison of the results of the ISEW with those of the GDP, which are advantages over previous studies. Empirical applications are developed for two countries, which are consistent in demonstrating the advantages of using the proposed theoretical framework for the ISEW, which can provide a clearer picture of the trends of a country’s welfare levels as well as the success of policies implemented.
The National and Regional Welfare Index: Methodology, Results and Political Impacts in Germany
Authors: Diefenbacher Hans, Dorothee Rodenhaeuser
Abstract: The contribution deals with the question of how alternative welfare measures can be brought further into the focus of political decision making and to the public at large. The National Welfare Index (NWI) has been developed to improve sustainability and welfare accounting. In addition to calculations for the national level in Germany (from 1991 up to the year 2012), regional indices (RWIs) have been calculated for six German Länder until now, answering a demand by political actors from green parties as well as from ministries. We will present the methodology, difficulties and compare the results of these calculations. On this basis, we will discuss the question whether there is a tangible political impact of welfare measurement. Furthermore, we will conclude on the question whether the way forward to improve the political impact of alternative welfare measurement lies in further sophisticated improvements of calculation methods or in a quest for simplicity.
‘The value of participation in advocating for alternative measures of economic welfare’
Authors: Katherine Trebeck
Abstract: When do alternative measures of economic welfare gain traction amongst policy makers? This paper explores a case study of apparent success – Oxfam’s Humankind Index in Scotland. It draws on evidence from a recent evaluation of this small initiative to reflect on the factors which led to the HKI becoming an influential policy product in the Scottish Parliament and amongst wider civil society. The process of the HKI’s construction was concertedly participatory, with particular effort made to include the views of people who are ‘seldom heard’. This is an important reason for its traction – the public consultation which informed its creation seemed to be compelling to policy makers. This lesson has implications for other efforts to go ‘beyond GDP’ – relying on experts or even stakeholders to determine the composition of alternative measures risks undermining their attractiveness to policy-makers who want to be seen to be listening to constituents.
Energy and economic growth. An empirical Coupled Human and Natural Systems (CHANS) evaluation in developed and developing countries
Authors: Panos Kalimeris, Kostas Bithas, Georgia Mavrommati
Abstract: The link between energy and economic growth is re-evaluated for approximating the actual biophysical properties and the relevant constraints of the production process, within the context of the Coupled Human and Natural Systems (CHANS) approach. The present article questions the prevalent Energy Intensity (EI) analysis, based on the Energy/Growth (E/GDP) prototype, and proposes Energy/Utility index as an alternative framework for evaluating the link between energy and production. We compare the prevalent (Energy/Growth) with the proposed (Energy/Utility) Energy Intensity prototype, through estimates of the Energy Intensity of USA; Japan; Germany; and UK, as four representative high developed countries, and China; India; Brazil; and Mexico, as four representative highly developing countries. Based on a broad range of estimates, we argue that energy is the indispensable engine of economic growth, once the EI estimates are evaluated as an integral part of CHANS approach.
Public Views on the Growth Debate: Results from a Questionnaire-Based Survey
Authors: Stefan Drews, Jeroen van den Bergh
Abstract: There is a long-standing and recently revived academic and public debate about economic growth and its relation to environmental quality and well-being. Given that public opinion influences public policy, it makes sense to examine how people think about these relationships. Prior research on public opinion has studied this issue, but in a rather simple and incomplete way. Here we present the results of an in-depth study of public opinion on a wide range of aspects related to economic growth. We conducted a web survey resulting in a large random sample (n=1008) of Spanish citizens. The results show that many people seem to have a continued desire for growth but are simultaneously doubtful about the possibility to achieve this due to several limits. We identify segments of the population with distinct views about growth and control our results for various individual characteristics such as personal values.
Reassessing the HDI ranking by sensitivity analysis.
Authors: tommaso luzzati
Abstract: The present paper illustrates a non-reductionist approach to composite indicators aimed at communicating the uncertainty that unavoidably arises from aggregation. To this purpose this approach is applied to the Human Development Indicator.
Why Low Economic Growth is Quite Likely and Would Not be the End of Economic Prosperity
Authors: Friedrich Hinterberger
Abstract: The European POLFREE project (http://www.ucl.ac.uk/polfree) will present several scenarios for a resource-efficient future with much less resource use on global and European scales. At least one of these scenarios will probably turn out to exhibit very low, maybe zero or even negative rates of economic growth (relative change in GDP). The paper will summarize arguments that may seem obvious to many ecological economists. Such a development is often seen as the end of economic prosperity, especially because it increases unemployment, reduces the ability of governments to fulfill requirements such as paying pensions and does not allow people to pay for what they want and need to increase their well-being. But it is the experience of the author that these arguments are still widely debated and therefore deserve a proper presentation and discussion within the scientific community. ESEE 2015 seems a perfect place to do so.