Chapter 1: Going beyond GDP: theoretical approaches
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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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