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Parution : Beyond GDP Measuring Welfare and Assessing Sustainability

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Par Marc Fleurbaey, titulaire de la chaire "Economie du bien-être" et Didier Blanchet.

Oxford, Oxford University Press, mai 2013, 336 p.

ISBN: 9780199767199

Le mot de l'éditeur

One original feature of this book is that it builds on economic theory, but also philosophy and psychology, in order to assess the various alternative indicators that have been circulated, and to make a specific proposal. Most alternatives to GDP have very little scholarly foundation.
Another feature is the provocative idea that what is wrong with GDP is not its being monetary. A monetary measure can put as much weight as one wants on non-market aspects of human lives.
This book is probably the most comprehensive study of alternatives to GDP and their foundations.

In spite of recurrent criticism and an impressive production of alternative indicators by scholars and NGOs, GDP remains the central indicator of countries' success. This book revisits the foundations of indicators of social welfare, and critically examines the four main alternatives to GDP that have been proposed: composite indicators, subjective well-being indexes, capabilities (the underlying philosophy of the Human Development Index), and equivalent incomes.
Its provocative thesis is that the problem with GDP is not that it uses a monetary metric but that it focuses on a narrow set of aspects of individual lives. It is actually possible to build an alternative, more comprehensive, monetary indicator that takes income as its first benchmark and adds or subtracts corrections that represent the benefit or cost of non-market aspects of individual lives. Such a measure can respect the values and preferences of the people and give as much weight as they do to the non-market dimensions.
A further provocative idea is that, in contrast, most of the currently available alternative indicators, including subjective well-being indexes, are not as respectful of people's values because, like GDP, they are too narrow and give specific weights to the various dimensions of life in a more uniform way, without taking account of the diversity of views on life in the population. The popular attraction that such alternative indicators derive from being non-monetary is therefore based on equivocation.
Moreover, it is argued in this book that "greening" GDP and relative indicators is not the proper way to incorporate sustainability concerns. Sustainability involves predicting possible future paths, therefore different indicators than those assessing the current situation. While various indicators have been popular (adjusted net savings, ecological footprint), none of them involves the necessary forecasting effort that a proper evaluation of possible futures requires.

Pour en savoir plus et/ou commander l'ouvrage sur le site de l'éditeur

Contents

Introduction: The four musketeers

1 A wealth of indicators

1.1 Introduction
1.2 A bird?s eye view
1.3 Aggregating the non-aggregatable?
1.4 Correcting GDP
1.5 Sustainability assessment: weak or strong?
1.6 Coping with multidimensionality: dashboards
1.7 An overhanging question: how far can aggregation go?

2 Measuring sustainability

2.1 Introduction
2.2 Wealth and sustainable well-being
2.3 The savings approach: a reference framework
2.4 The savings approach: several pending problems
2.5 Conclusion: where to go from there?

3 A price for everything?

3.1 A revealed preference argument
3.2 A variant of the revealed preference argument
3.3 The theory of index numbers
3.4 Decomposing welfare
3.5 Specific problems with imputed prices and full income
3.6 Conclusion

4 Equivalent income, or how to value what has no price

4.1 Money-metric utility and equivalent income
4.2 Knock-out criticism?
4.3 Fairness to the rescue
4.4 Social welfare decomposition
4.5 Conclusion

5 Is happiness all that matters?

5.1 The Easterlin paradox: Have we been wrong for 70,000 years?
5.2 A theory of subjective well-being
5.3 Making use of happiness data
5.4 Conclusion

6 Empowering capabilities

6.1 The capability approach
6.2 Capabilities as opportunities
6.3 The valuation issue
6.4 Is the CA a separate approach?

Conclusion: How to converge on a multiplicity

Why synthetic indicators?
Shortcuts and pitfalls
Vices and virtues of monetary indicators
A multiplicity of synthetic indicators
Sustainability warnings

A A theory of the reference for equivalent incomes

B Proofs

Pour en savoir plus et/ou commander l'ouvrage sur le site de l'éditeur

Chaire: 
Économie du bien-être

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