Futuribles Journal n° 411

Économie, emploi - Société, modes de vie

Towards New Development Indicators: Issues and Challenges as Seen Through the Case of the European Union

“Wealth is unstable and passing”, wrote the Greek playwright Menander in the 4th century BCE, yet human beings have striven to measure it for centuries. And for many a long year they have done so using exclusively monetary and economic indicators, such as Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Despite regular objections to this choice of indicators, including in the pages of Futuribles, we had to wait until the 2000s before other elements (particularly, environmental and social factors) were taken into account by the national and international authorities in measuring the wealth and development of societies. Laura Brimont, Damien Demailly and Lucas Chancel remind us here how these new indicators emerged and the uses to which they can be put. They go on to show how they are becoming officially established at the European level and now form part of the medium-to-long-term strategies of the EU –for example, through the “Beyond GDP” initiative or the Europe 2020 strategy. They close by highlighting the issues involved in the establishment of such indicators, in symbolic terms, in terms of politico-economic harmonization and in terms of the evolution of European political priorities, while at the same time deploring a certain disconnect between the academic authorities producing these new indicators and the (political and citizen) actors who are expected to use them.

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