OECD welcomes experts’ call on need for new measures of social progress


14/09/2009-The OECD is ready to play a key role in helping to implement the recommendations of a commission of international experts on new ways of measuring well-being and progress, OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría said.

In remarks prepared for a workshop on the findings of the Commission on the Measurement of Economic Performance and Social Progress set up by French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Mr Gurría noted that the OECD is well placed to lead international cooperation on harmonising concepts and methodologies.  The OECD World Forum on “Statistics, Knowledge and Policy” to be held in Busan, Korea, on 27-30 October 2009 will provide the next major international opportunity to advance the Commission’s recommendations.

The Commission, which includes five Nobel prize-winning economists – Joseph Stiglitz, Amartya Sen, Kenneth Arrow, James Heckman and Daniel Kahneman – proposes new indicators to measure subjective aspects of social progress such as freedom, security and contentment as well as objective features including economic and ecological resources.

Mr Gurría welcomed the Commission’s call for a change in emphasis in how we measure economic performance and social progress – to move away from a system of indicators based on production to one based on people’s well-being.


Watch this Video about the Stiglitz commission and the OECD’s work in measuring progress

“Economic resources are not all that matter in people’s lives,” he said. “We need better measures of people’s expectations and levels of satisfaction, of how they spend their time, of their relations with other people in their community. We need to focus on stocks as much as on flows, and we need to broaden the range of assets that we consider important to sustain our well-being.”

At present, he observed, there is a growing gap between what official statistics tell us about our economies and how people see the conditions in which they live their daily lives.  “This gap can be clearly damaging both to the credibility of political debate and action and to the very functioning of democracy in our countries,” he warned.

The World Forum in Busan is part of a global project on Measuring the Progress of Society  initiated by the OECD five years ago. Participants  will explore what progress means in today’s world and how to develop better statistics and indicators to measure it, and also how improved statistics can be used to design and monitor better government policies. Several of the Commission members will join the debate in Busan along with politicians, statisticians, academics, opinion leaders and journalists from around the world.

Further information about the World Forum on Statistics, Knowledge and Policy in Busan, Korea, including how to obtain press accreditation to attend, can be obtained from or from the OECD’s Media Division (; tel: + 33 1 4524 9700)


>> The report is online at

>> Speech given by the OECD Secretary-General to the Commission (in French)
>> OECD statistics on measuring economic performance and social progress


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