Consensus Remains Among Global Public on the Need to go “Beyond GDP”

With the airwaves often dominated by discussion of economic indicators and GDP, a casual observer could be forgiven for thinking that this was the only valid measure of a country’s development. However, nearly seven in ten citizens across eleven countries think that a broader measure—one incorporating health, environmental, and social statistics—should be used instead of GDP to measure national progress.
Drawn from our most recent work with Ethical Markets, the ICAEW, and business think-tank Tomorrow’s Company, these figures from 11 developed and developing nations suggest that the overall consensus favouring alternative measures of gauging development has not changed since 2010. However, at a national level, we can see significant trends. In Australia, China, and the UK, the public is now much more convinced of the need for a broader way of measuring national progress. In contrast, the two countries most in favour of going “beyond GDP” in 2010 are now among those where opposition is strongest— Germany, where the Eurozone crisis may be causing people to value economic success over other considerations, and Brazil, where the boom of recent years has slowed significantly.
It is not clear that this marks a generational shift in public attitudes—when we break the data down by demographics, we also learn that younger respondents are more likely to favour continued reliance on GDP. Nonetheless, as a return to the boom years proves elusive and environmental and social problems persist, it seems clear that a more holistic and comprehensive way of measuring development would enjoy significant world support.
This post was written by former GlobeScan Research Director, Sam Mountford.