Beyond GDP: what matters to national well-being

A group of people looking happy, they have their arms around each other and are in a park type setting with sunlight behind them

Today the ONS has published its latest insights from our Measures of National Well-being dashboard. This forms part of the ONS’s plans to move beyond traditional economic metrics to measure the impact of growth on people and the natural environment. As part of this agenda, Hugh Stickland writes about plans to develop our measures of national well-being.  

This morning, ONS published a range of statistics looking at how we are doing as an economy, society and environmentally. The key findings include: 

  • GDP grew a little in the first three months of 2023, driven by growth in IT and construction, which were partially offset by falls in health, education and public administration 
  • Falls in the levels of adults reporting high life satisfaction in late 2022, when compared with late 2021, while other measures of personal well-being remained stable  
  • Almost two-thirds of adults in Great Britain said they were worried about the impact of climate change; many of them are worried about the impact on future generations 

These publications are only a single milestone in our radical plans to move ‘beyond GDP’. We’ve been consulting people on what matters most when it comes to national well-being as discussed in this previous blog by ONS director of public policy and analysis, Liz McKeown. 

Following this review, we’re pleased to announce that we will launch the findings of this review on 5 July 2023 at an event in London.  

We’ll be publishing our findings from our review report, alongside new data from our updated set of indicators on how the UK is performing on health, well-being, the economy, environment and other important areas for our quality of life.  

The event will see National Statistician Professor Sir Ian Diamond join a range of experts to discuss these new findings. 

This will be just the first in a wider series of seminars, organised in partnership with the Royal Statistical Society and others on measuring progress ‘beyond GDP’. The series aims to take a holistic look at UK economic, environmental and social progress to gain a much broader understanding than that offered by traditional economic metrics alone.  

They will also advance the debate on the future of economic statistics, as set out by the National Statistician at the Royal Society in March 2023.  

It will provide a deeper dive into the internationally agreed System of National Accounts, which is used to produce GDP and other key economic statistics, alongside developments with our environmental and social statistics. 

You can sign up to our first of these events on our Eventbrite page, with joining details for future seminars being published shortly. 

Hugh Stickland is Deputy Director, ONS Analytical Hub