As countries begin emerging from the global financial crisis, France is
proposing to measure progress in a new way - one that includes
happiness and well being, as well as traditional economic benchmarks.
standard measures, the world has certainly been going
through some tough times. But do these indicators capture all facets
of progress? According to French President Nicolas Sarkozy,
the answer is 'no.'
Mr. Sarkozy announced France will begin
including less tangible indicators, like happiness and well being, into
its measurements of economic progress.
French President said the current crisis does not just give
the international community the freedom to imagine another economic
model, it obliges the world to do so. We do not have the choice, he
Mr. Sarkozy's remarks coincided with the publication of a
new report by two Nobel economists, Joseph Stiglitz and Armatya Sen,
that looks at non-traditional ways at measuring social progress. The
report was commissioned by the French government.
recommends shifting the ways policymakers look at progress from what
economists call gross domestic product, or GDP, which is a general
measure of goods and services produced in a country. The new
indicators also would include non-material 'wealth', like access to
education and health care.
France is not the first country to
look at the non-material aspects of progress. The Himalayan kingdom of
Bhutan emphasizes a concept it calls 'gross national happiness,' rather
than GDP. Bhutan's main research center collects a wide variety of
data to measure this, including things like psychological well being,
good governance, ecological diversity and living standards.
France, Mr. Sarkozy says focusing too much on gross domestic product as
the main measure of prosperity contributed to the financial crisis. He
wants other countries to follow France's example in looking at less
materialistic indicators of progress.