Since the introduction of the System of National Accounts, gross domestic product (GDP) has become a synonym for growth and development. However, this indicator offers a rather narrow view of economic progress, neglecting to represent social aspects as well as the environmental consequences of economic growth. This chapter presents a review of the debate around the need to go ‘beyond GDP’, stressing aspects such as multidimensionality, basic needs, utilitarianism, subjective well-being, capabilities, and the methodological issues related to the aggregation of measures of well-being. Inequalities and sustainability are addressed separately, together with the specific challenges set by their measurement. The chapter stresses the importance of the involvement of stakeholders to guarantee democratic legitimacy for the indicators used to overcome the narrowness of GDP. The chapter ends with a discussion on how multidimensional approaches to well-being are increasingly setting in, as epitomized by the indicators of the 2030 Strategy with the Sustainable Development Goals.
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Enrico Giovannini and Tommaso Rondinella
Ulf Bernitz, Moa Mårtensson, Lars Oxelheim and Thomas Persson
The introductory chapter provides an overview of the great social challenge that the EU currently faces. The editors raise the question of what can be done to bridge the prosperity gap in Europe. First, they briefly describe the background: the social dimension of European cooperation and its historical development. Second, they identify the new social challenges that the Union faces in the wake of the Great Recession, the ongoing refugee crisis, and the Brexit referendum. Third, an analytical point of departure for examining these challenges is presented, consisting of an interdisciplinary approach that pinpoints a number of overarching problems and possibilities associated with the social dimension of European integration. Fourth and finally, the book’s chapters are introduced, and their key policy recommendations are summarized. The chapter concludes with the argument that much of the EU’s future relevance and ability to stay together depends on its capacity to counteract the prosperity gap and reverse the negative trend that emerged during the crisis.
Edited by Ulf Bernitz, Moa Mårtensson, Lars Oxelheim and Thomas Persson
The first chapter by James Midgley provides a broad introduction to the concept of social investment and the way it is used in different academic and professional fields. Noting that the term ‘social investment’ is poorly defined, he offers a definition and examines the meaning of terms such as ‘investment’, ‘consumption’, ‘income’, ‘assets’ and ‘capital’ which are widely used in economics. The chapter then reviews the different ways the term ‘social investment’ has been used in four academic and professional fields, namely social policy, nonprofit management, community studies and development studies where investment ideas have been influential since the 1950s. The chapter contends that scholars will benefit from understanding the way the concept of social investment has been employed in these different academic and professional fields. It concludes by suggesting that may be possible to synthesize these different approaches to promote a comprehensive and globally relevant interpretation that will enhance the academic and policy relevance of social investment ideas. Key words: social investment, international social welfare, social policy