I would point out that the global percentage of the owners of wealth has hardly changed in over a hundred years. Individual prosperity has changed in the west, but that’s a different thing. There has been a price to pay for this by the poorest in those societies though. It has taken the form of a transition from poverty and low wages, to what could be describes as wage slavery. The abolition of the gold standard and ever increasing levels of credit have produced several generations of the working populations, living from week to week or month to month, striving to stave off financial meltdown.
As the world financial situation evolves and emerging markets develop, it must reverse this situation if it wants to avoid the continuing violence and unrest, of which this is a big part.
The OECD should be congratulated for producing this research, which provides such a wealth of data and insights into the changes in well-being over nearly 200 years. As the paper notes, these dimensions provide a better view of well-being than one based on GDP per capita alone.
This topic is something Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand has recently explored in our publication, Is policy making measuring up? Rethinking how we measure the success of a nation. In it we recommend that GDP is reported alongside a measure of well-being, such as the Social Progress Index, when reporting national progress.
We encourage the OECD and other global bodies to provide greater focus on reporting non-GDP based measures alongside GDP per capita when comparing the progress of nations so that this methodology can become more mainstream.
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©OECD Observer No 300, Q3 2014