Measuring wellbeing and going ‘Beyond GDP’

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

A new ONS publication out today, aims to give an holistic view on how society is doing, beyond purely economic measures. Here, Tim Vizard explores what we have done so far on ‘Beyond GDP’ and outlines our next steps on this important work.

Measuring how we are doing as a country is complicated. As set out in a blog last year, it’s tempting to simplify the answer into a single number, with Gross Domestic Product (GDP) often used. But the true – and more complicated – answer is that our experiences differ depending on who we are, where we live and the environment we live in.

Over the last nine months, we’ve been working closely with the Royal Statistical Society to look at how well-being and Beyond GDP is measured in the UK and globally. We held four events, which has led to feedback from people across the UK and around the world, guiding us to enhance our work in measuring national well-being.

A presentation being given to a crowded room, titled "Beyond GDP: What Matters to National Well-being"

The first Royal Statistical Society event in July 2023

This feedback highlighted the importance of using clear language to explain our work. Often terms such as well-being, quality of life and Beyond GDP are used interchangeably, causing confusion around whether they are measuring different things. To address this, we have created the title “Measuring Progress, Well-being and Beyond GDP” to highlight both alignment with international work in this area, and also continuity with existing work published on well-being across the UK.

Additionally, we were asked to bring together the key elements of our well-being and Beyond GDP work into a single place, which you can now find on our new landing page on the ONS website. And this morning, we’ve published “Measuring Progress, Well-being and Beyond GDP”, our latest step providing a clearer, overarching narrative on progress.

Our release today summarises progress in the UK across the dimensions of economy, environment and society, bringing together the latest the data we in ONS, and statisticians across Government, collect on this important issue.

Each quarter, we will focus on a particular aspect of well-being and beyond GDP. Today’s release focuses on individuals, drawing from releases such as time use, household and inclusive income, greenhouse gas emissions, air pollution, natural capital and personal well-being.

While we eagerly await tomorrow’s latest GDP estimates, where attention will quite rightly focus on our economic growth, today’s data helps us understand the broader context of how we are doing as a nation, capturing the wider impacts economic growth has on society and the environment. We expect to publish our next Measuring Progress, Well-being and Beyond GDP bulletin on 14 August 2024.

If you have any feedback on our work, please email

You can sign-up to receive updates on ‘Measuring Progress, Well-being and Beyond GDP’ by subscribing to our regular emails and clicking on the ‘Well-being’ topic.

Image of Tim Vizard

Tim Vizard is from the Policy Evidence and Analysis Team at the ONS