Beyond GDP

Better Statistics CIC is currently conducting an original program of research into people’s perceptions of their well-being, the first stage of which is an online survey amongst the general population asking some questions about people’s health and general lifestyle.  All respondents are eligible for the Prize Draw offering 10 Highstreet Vouchers worth £150 each.

Details of the full research program can be viewed here. If you’d like to participate in the research please go to survey questionnaire. All answers are treated in complete confidence, but if you wish to remain anonymous do not provide your email address. However, you will not be eligible for the prize draw.

This research follows from the original objectives of the Campaign for Better Business Statistics, which had begun life from the concern that the GDP figures for the UK were failing to measure the full impact of the digital ‘Gig’ economy and that the underlying business statistics provided by the ONS no longer represented a true picture of UK enterprise.

The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the measurement of GDP and the growing imperative represented by the effects of global warming have emphasised the requirement to replace GDP with a measure more suitable to the needs of today. In fact, even prior to the pandemic, there had been a considerable degree of international interest in measuring national wellbeing as a complement to GDP (see for example “Beyond GDP – measuring what counts for Economic and Social Performance” as published by OECD). Moreover, as long ago as 2011 the ONS had conducted an extensive public debate on the subject which had included 175 events involving 7,250 people. In addition, they conducted an online debate and used other channels that generated a total of 34,000 responses .

However, there has been little subsequent public engagement since that time and the issue has largely been left with the professional statisticians and economists to debate. Nevertheless, following that work, the ONS provides regular measures of wellbeing as described in the appendix to our proposals (see further below).

The importance of continuing to engage the public in establishing new measurement(s) of social success is emphasised by the recent research on “Public Understanding of Economics and Economic Statistics” by Johnny Runge and Nathan Hudson. They sum up their findings thus:

“Our research indicates that the communication of economic issues and statistics to the public needs improving”

The primary significance of this finding is that this lack of understanding has led to a growing mistrust of official statistics, a mistrust that, for example, extends to many persons having a disbelief in the unemployment data and also the rate of inflation! Revising or changing GDP therefore represents an opportunity to renew the public faith in our statistics or, alternatively, it could bring further alienation.

Our research is designed to look again at the findings of 2011 in the light of contemporary circumstance. However it adopts a slightly more personal view of wellbeing, rather than people’s perceptions of National Wellbeing which was an important theme of the 2011 public engagement; our intention is to also engage those members of the population who are more self-absorbed, for whatever reason.

For further details of the research download any of the following: