Measuring the Well-Being of Nations

This page has information on initiatives, reports, and articles on measuring the well-being of nations. Why measure the well-being of nations?

Countries have relied largely on economic measures such as Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as an indicator of national progress. There is growing awareness, however, that economic measures alone do not fully reflect a nation’s progress and well-being. Multi-dimensional measures of well-being can supplement economic indicators to more accurately represent how a nation is doing and to better inform public policy.

Public policy follows from what we measure. If a society focuses largely on measuring economic output, people are likely to focus more attention and energy on economic output, sometimes to the detriment of other values. If a society measures well-being, people will focus more of their attention on well-being. We measure what we value, and we value what we measure. Click here to learn more on this perspective.


Article: “Beyond Money” on the rationale for measuring national well-being


Article: “Using Well Being for Public Policy” on national well-being surveys


Better Life Index from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)


OECD Report: “Beyond GDP: Measuring What Counts for Economic and Social Performance”


World Happiness Report


Bhutan’s Gross National Happiness Index:


Wellbeing Economy Alliance


Article: “GDP is Not a Good Measure of Wellbeing – it’s too Materialistic”


Article: “Mis-measuring Our Lives: Why GDP Doesn’t Add Up”


Article: “Beyond GDP: U.S. States Have Adopted Genuine Progress Indicators”


Article: "Iceland Puts Well-Being Ahead of GDP in Budget"