The worst depression in 70 years now seems to be entering the final lap. Official indices at least are indicating the recession will be behind us before long. However, numerous people in the world lost their job, home and annuity during the course of the recession period. Moreover, the human and social costs incurred by the economic downturn are steadily growing. The recent crisis has shown us that there is a wide gap between what the figures displayed in the widely-used economic indices say and how people actually feel about the economy.
While we have put an utmost emphasis on Gross Domestic Products (GDP) as a barometer for the overall economy until now, we have not paid much attention in detecting a level of social welfare. We, as a member of the society, must now take steps to create an index to indicate other critical elements to be focused on in order to restore reliability of world statistics.
We’re urged to put utmost efforts in establishing a set of indicators estimating actual household income, spending and asset scale. Indices on material standards of living must evaluate and measure, the so-called ‘well-being aspects of life’, such as health, education, environment, economic and physical safety net. Social values as well as essential values of democracy such as delegation of political rights, transparent governing structure and rule of law are indispensable criteria to be evaluated. Furthermore, the non-market activities such as housework or leisure activities are ought to be evaluated in measuring the income level.
As part of efforts to establish more socially progressive forms of indicator, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is hosting the 3rd OECD World Forum on “Statistics, Knowledge and Policy” in Busan , Korea on October 27-30 2009. During the World Forum in Busan, international experts, politicians, civil society and corporate leaders will discuss schemes to enhance standards for statistics in a bid to fulfill people’s needs and more accurately reflect the reality of communities.
Through the recent crisis, we have learned that it is impossible to maintain sustainable growth and desired level of social welfare with a conventional way of doing businesses that had been practiced before the crisis. One of the most important indices is the one that measures the welfare of ordinary people.
[written by Ángel Gurría, the Secretary General of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)]
[translated by Ye-sol Yi, edited by Jae-yoon Jung]
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