22 Aug Forget about the GDP take a look at well-being instead
A program on American Public Media’s Marketplace on Saturday morning caught my attention as APM’s Heidi Moore presented the pros and cons of using the GDP and consumerism as a means of measuring how “well” we’re doing. I’ve always thought it was a bit of a conundrum that as we try to reuse as much as we can (right now to the current obsession with vintage clothing) we’re still measuring ourselves on how much we’re consuming. It’s the same when I hear that unemployment is high, but the number of startups is rapidly increasing. Does anyone not see the correlations between these things? I can’t tell you how many of my friends have started their businesses while on unemployment. (Frankly I don’t see anything wrong with that and I’m happy to pay taxes to fund my friends’ and others’ dreams.)
I don’t agree with a lot of what happens in the UK but I was intrigued by the new Gallup-Healthways Wellbeing Index. It’s an index of how well UK residents are doing in terms of their health and well-being. The reporter went on to talk about “why don’t we have one here” and so I looked it up. We’ve had a Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index in the US since 2008. (Shame on you, Heidi Moore that was super easy to find.)
Basically, here’s what it does:
The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index® is the first-ever daily assessment of U.S. residents’ health and well-being. By interviewing at least 1,000 U.S. adults every day, the Well-Being Index provides real-time measurement and insights needed to improve health, increase productivity, and lower healthcare costs. Public and private sector leaders use data on life evaluation, physical health, emotional health, healthy behavior, work environment, and basic access to develop and prioritize strategies to help their communities thrive and grow.
I think well-being is a better index. It takes into account our basic life evaluation, emotional and physical health, our behaviors, work environment…all the things that go toward how we FEEL about ourselves. Of that 9% who are unemployed, how many have the chance now to learn something new or finish their college degree? How many are starting businesses? A well-being index could be used to factor those people out and give us a NET NET unemployment figure. Then we could really focus on those people who have lost their jobs and can’t feed their families.
There’s another factor that we must begin to examine if businesses are to become healthier…and that means so much more than being profitable. What about a spirituality index? One that starts with corporations? What if we measured them by not only income and now increasingly social responsibility, but also by how “good’ they are. I think you’d be surprised at the where Walmart ranks as opposed to Target. But more on that later.