The Importance of Well-being

The New Economics Foundation, nef, launched a new report on its website in January, entitled the National Accounts of Well-being. Nef have set out a radical proposal to help guide the direction of modern societies and the lives of the people who live in them.

It has long been recognised that the standard measure of national income, used to assess the progress of nations – Gross Domestic Product – fails as a meaningful measure of social progress. It values only the crude increases in in-come and takes no account of whether resources are fairly distributed, or of the social and environmental damage caused by ‘growth’.

The report calls for governments to directly measure people’s subjective well-being: their experiences, feelings and perceptions of how their lives are going. It would provide a new way of assessing societal progress, based on people’s real experience.

Nef is asking governments to adopt their report as a powerful tool. It could significantly enhance the effectiveness of public policy-making, by providing a much better guide for the decisions that shape societies.

Now that we have entered a period of increased economic, social and environmental uncertainty, the ultimate consequences of our obsession with ‘growth’ have become all too clear: a financial system disconnected from the real economy, unsustainable levels of debt and a planet under great strain, due to our high-consuming lifestyles. National Accounts of Well-being offers a timely and effective way to refocus our attention on things that really matter.

Sign up to pledge your support for nef’s proposal that National Accounts of Well-being should become government policy. Take action to make it happen and ask your MP or representative to join the call for official statistics on well-being in the UK and beyond.

Contact: The New Economics Foundation,
3 Jonathan Street, London, SE11 5NH
Tel: +44 (0)20 7820 6300 Website:

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