About

 

The High-Level Expert Group on the Measurement of Economic Performance and Social Progress (HLEG), attached to the OECD, has been established to follow-up on the recommendations of the Commission on the Measurement of Economic Performance and Social Progress (also known as the Stiglitz-Sen-Fitoussi Commission) and to provide impetus and guidance to the various initiatives currently ongoing on measuring people’s well-being and societies’ progress, notably by:

  • keeping the momentum of the ongoing statistical efforts to develop better metrics of well-being and societal progress;
  • better connecting measurement initiatives and economic theory; and
  • providing guidance to ongoing international initiatives on the measurement of well-being and societal progress.

The work of the HLEG will provide leadership on measuring well-being and progress worldwide as well as directly inform the OECD’s own work on measuring well-being and progress.

 

Background

The Commission on the Measurement of Economic Performance and Social Progress (CMPEPS), established by former French President Nicolas Sarkozy in 2007, and chaired by Joseph E. Stiglitz, Amartya Sen and Jean-Paul Fitoussi, gave a huge impulse to a discussion that had been ongoing for several years on the limits of GDP as a welfare metric. This initiative resulted from the perception of a growing gap between the image provided by macro-economic statistics, on one side, and people’s perceptions of their own conditions and of society as whole, on the other. While this gap was already evident during the period of strong economic growth that characterised the first decade of the 2000s, it was further strengthened by the crisis that hit the world economy in 2008.


The report of the CMEPSP had much resonance at the international level, leading to a wide range of measurement initiatives and to a series of important political statements, ranging from the EU Communication on “GDP and beyond” in 2009, to references in the Pittsburgh G20 communiqué, to the 2012 UN resolution on happiness and well-being, and to the Rio+20 outcome document calling upon the UN Statistical Commission to develop measures of progress complementing GDP. In this context, building on more than 10 years of work on measuring the progress of societies and on its active contribution to the work of the CMEPSP, the OECD launched its Better Life Initiative on the occasion of the Organisation’s 50th Anniversary in 2011. The OECD initiative, combining data and research, is based on a framework that is closely aligned to the recommendations of the CMEPSP report.


To take stock of progress and promote similar initiatives around the world, the OECD has organised a series of regional conferences in Latin-America, Asia-Pacific and Africa in 2011 and 2012, culminating in the 4th OECD World Forum on “Statistics, Knowledge and Policy” organised in New Delhi in October 2012. These conferences have highlighted the significant progress that had already been achieved, but also the many challenges that still lie ahead, both in terms of the development of improved measures in areas where adequate metrics are still lacking, and of the use of these measures to inform policies and to impact on the behaviours of citizens, governments, civil society and the business community. To meet these challenges, close dialogue with official statisticians and the academic community remains critical.


It is on this background that, in May 2013, the OECD offered to host a High-Level Expert Group to be co-chaired by Joe Stiglitz, Jean-Paul Fitoussi and Martine Durand (see press release).