現在歐洲開始討論新的福利指標組的建立: Beyond GDP: UK to Measure Well-Being by Laura Stoll - [ 翻譯此頁 ]
In November, UK Prime Minister David Cameron announced that, to help guide national policy, the British government would begin to measure the subjective well-being of its citizens. The announcement was the latest evidence of a growing awareness among governments and economists that Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and other traditional metrics of economic progress fail to measure the kind of progress that makes life better.
The British government’s decision to measure subjective well-being (rather than, say, objective measures of mental and physical health) underscored the growing debate about what measurements should replace the outdated focus on economic growth.
The Problem with GDP
Cameron explained that the change was about “measuring our progress as a country not just by how our economy is growing, but by how our lives are improving . . . not just by our standard of living, but by our quality of life.” Indeed, GDP was never intended to be used as an indicator of social progress. Simon Kuznets, the economist who helped the U.S Department of Commerce standardize the measure of gross national product , acknowledged that “a nation’s welfare can scarcely be inferred from a measurement of national income.” GDP can go up even in times of suffering: when a country is hit by an earthquake, GDP may increase because of the extra spending on reconstruction. High levels of illness bump drug sales and hospital bills, leading to an increase in a country’s economic activity. But for the last 60 years, GDP has been the main tool in the measurement of people’s well-being.
The British government’s decision is part of a growing acknowledgment that objective (and mainly economic) data can’t give us the whole picture—and may, in fact, predispose us to promote economic growth at the cost of well-being. This UK announcement follows in the footsteps of a report commissioned last year by the French President, Nicolas Sarkozy, and written by Nobel economists Joseph Stiglitz and Amartya Sen, about alternative measures of progress. And around the globe, governments are changing the way they measure how well their country is doing. In Bhutan the government uses “Gross National Happiness” as the main indicator of the country’s development, and in Ecuador and Bolivia the indigenous concept of “buen vivir” (living well) has been incorporated into state constitutions. In the United States, Maryland is experimenting with a “Genuine Progress Indicator.”
Finding a Better Measurement
As awareness of the need for alternative indicators grows, so does the debate about what those indicators should be. In their report [pdf] to President Sarkozy, Joseph Stiglitz and Sen emphasized that a new measurement system “must, of necessity, be plural—because no single measure can summarize something as complex as the well-being of the members of society.” They recommended living standards, or material well-being, as “a good place to start” and recommended that measurements focus not on economic production but on the distribution of income, consumption, and wealth.
In contrast, the British government has decided to measure subjective well-being—what citizens have to say about the quality of their lives. The UK Office for National Statistics has been given the task of choosing several subjective well-being questions to be included in the Integrated Household Survey, the biggest source of social data on the UK after the census. The process has begun with a public consultation, involving both the general population and specialists, about what the focus of these questions should be.
In addition to directly asking how people would rate their level of satisfaction with their lives (a commonly used question, and therefore most useful for making international comparisons), there are good reasons to design questions that will measure people’s senses of trust and belonging, of the quality of their relationships, of the level of autonomy they have over their lives.
Such questions aim to measure how people think and feel about their well-being. Using these measures allows for individual differences in identities and values to be expressed—for example, one person may answer a life satisfaction question by thinking mostly about their job security and salary, but somebody else may answer the same question by emphasizing their family relationships and health. This means that data on subjective well-being can be used to tell us what really matters to people, not what politicians think matters.
In the UK, collecting this information via the Integrated Household Survey links it to a large amount of objective data which can then be used to identify links between people’s subjective well-being or experiences, and other objective factors—including economic activity, education, health and disability, identity, place of residence, and income. This will provide information on the impact of social, economic, cultural and physical conditions on people’s well-being, which can then be used to shape policy priorities. The real test will therefore come with the results of the survey, when we will see whether and how the UK government uses this new information.
The information will also allow politicians—as well as the public—to assess the effectiveness of the government’s policies in terms that really matter to people. The ultimate aim of most policy is to improve lives, but without proper measures of well-being it can be difficult to assess whether this is being achieved.
The success of this measurement program depends a lot on exactly how the information is attained and then used, but this announcement may have signaled the start of a UK government agenda which puts well-being, rather than economic growth, at the heart of its public policy.
Laura Stoll wrote this article for YES! Magazine, a national, nonprofit media organization that fuses powerful ideas with practical actions. Laura is a researcher with the Centre for Well-being, a program of the New Economics Foundation, a UK-based think tank that studies well-being economics.
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不 久之前，英國首相卡麥隆決定要自今年起編製「綜合福祉指標」，來補充國內生產毛額（ＧＤＰ）之不足。兩年前，法國總統沙克吉也有類似想法，聘了幾位知名學 者寫了一分政策建議，而目前該國相關部門正在研擬中。這是一個非常正確的方向：最常作為衡量國民生活水準的國內生產毛額，已與一般人民的生活日益脫節。
脫節之原因一，在於國內生產毛額經常被誤用，久而久之，偏誤的作法成為常態，正確的用法無人提及。其實現有的資料有些比國內生產毛額貼近民生，像「以要素 計算的國民所得」，也就是薪資加利潤，這才是民眾實際可以「分到」的餅。但以我國為例，從八九到九八年的十年間，ＧＤＰ平均成長百分之三點四，以要素計算 的國民所得成長不到百分之二。
為什麼？以最近幾年來說，企業設備投資的額度愈來愈大，提列的折舊愈來愈多；這些折舊會變成企業的「儲蓄」，但是一般人民分不到。另外，去年平均出口價格 比九五年低了百分之三，但平均進口價格漲了百分之十五，一來一往，國民的購買能力變低了。所以，治國的注意力如果改放在「國民所得」，就會比單用ＧＤＰ貼 近人民。
英法兩國想要做的事，其目標更高，將大幅超過現有統計的範圍。第一，除了客觀指標外，民眾的主觀感受也將列入。國內目前有一主觀指標，就是中大的消費者信 心指數。這個指數上月創十年來的歷史新高，當然是好事。但我們必須了解，上月實際數字是八十六點八，而滿分是兩百。當全體受訪者對所有題目，都剛好看好看 壞各半時，指數就會是一百。八十六點八還不到一百，表示受訪的兩千多位民眾，對於未來的信心，從谷底上升到十年來的新高，但這個新高還是不夠高。過去十年 的信心低落程度，超乎想像。這也表示，有許多企業和民眾，其經濟狀況還沒有回到過去的水準。
無論是國家治理，還是企業治理，數字管理是一個重要的基礎。管理不能只靠數字，但如果連最基礎、最關鍵的數字都沒有，管理者等於是在黑暗中摸索，在沒有地 圖的指引下前進，成功將只是偶然，事倍功半則指日可待。誠如已故的歷史學家黃仁宇所言，明朝稅制之所以失敗，缺乏數字管理是重要原因。我們希望所有具決策 權力的機構，要重視數字的收集，並且使用正確的數字，作為國家治理的導引。
Tesco is minting it, suggest company results this week. In his regular column, Michael Blastland reveals a new measurement for an age of mega numbers: The Tesco.
As shops go, Tesco is the daddy. It's often said that £1 in every £7 spent in the shops is spent at Tesco. The company's global sales this year were about £60bn, UK sales about £40bn.
That's handy. No, not just because it keeps thousands in jobs, pays profits to our pension funds and taxes to the government etc (though let's not forget it has critics). Tesco puts the world in proportion.
In fact, Go Figure can reveal that government ministers increasingly struggle to get their heads round the national finances. For most of the numbers in public argument have gone enormous too. Billions, trillions? Too many zeros. What better way to understand them than with a new unit of measurement? From now on the Treasury will measure the economy and public spending in: The Tesco.
How does that work? Click through the presentation below.
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However, Tesco isn't just a British operation, so if we use the global sales of Tesco as our standard unit, at about £60bn, then...
The UK economy = about 24 Tescos
US economy = about 156 Tescos.
Total UK government spending = about 11 Tescos.
Total UK government debt = about 13 Tescos.
Confidential Cabinet papers reveal that Ed Balls is calling for two Tescos for the Department of Children Schools and Families but may be willing to forgo the men's clothing, while Overseas Aid has put in a bid for an extra frozen veg. Transport has accepted a cut of in-store bakery and toiletries.
Meanwhile, Sir Terry Leahy, Tesco chief executive, only - only? - has to increase his global business relative to the US by about 156 times and Tesco would be the world's biggest economy. Do you think he knows?
Any ideas for other new units of measurement that could simplify the world? Send your suggestions and we'll post the best.
Sources: Public Finances Databank, Public Expenditure Statistical Analysis, Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings, US Bureau of Economic Analysis.
Note: Why doesn't UK GDP (35 Tescos) equal the private sector (28 Tescos) plus public spending (15 Tescos)? Mainly because a large part of public spending is transfer payments (pensions and benefits and the like), that is, cash simply taken from one person and given to another. This is not part of GDP. So some of the private sector output is counted again in public spending when the money taken in tax is paid out in pensions etc.
Assumptions: GDP approx £1.4tn. Public spending approx 44% of GDP. Market sector output approx 80% of GDP. UK debt to GDP ratio approx 63%. Readers have a sense of humour - the Treasury won't really being doing its sums in The Tesco.