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Public Good has an ambitious research to action agenda on inequality, poverty and power.


As well as engaging on a range of specific initiatives, at the centre of our agenda is a major programme on better measuring progress.


When we say 'better measuring progress' - we mean two things:


  • First, the need to review what we count towards progress - and what we don't count.   Who decides? Is the process open and transparent?


  • Second, in order to deliver sustainable developent for people and planet, a better balance is needed between measurement focused on production and consumption and the value accorded to wider contributions to society.


This means giving greater weight to issues such as biodiversity. It requires a focus beyond averages, which often mask the reality of people's lives. It means giving greater priority to the needs and contribution of people left behind - especially the furthest behind.

Political economy of GDP programme: twin track approach

Counting all contributions 

Academic & analysis track
Policy to action track

Forensic analysis which shows how GDP is determined and where decisions are made which can hold back - or bring about - change

Engagement at all levels to inform, inspire and support people to see that change is possible and who can make change happen.

Introduction, background, issue: why this work is needed

  • As the dominant measure of progress, GDP is an obstacle to delivering societal value

  • abundant authoritative analysis has not delivered change

  • a linked twin track academic to action approach adds value by:

    • synthesising existing knowledge into intuitive policy analysis

    • filling gaps in what is known

    • informing public narrative and real time action to promote change.

What it will deliver


  • 50 years of analysis, research and discussion has resulted in only modest shifts in how societies measure progress.

  • "What gets measured gets done". Agenda 2030 and the SDGs – especially climate and inequality imperatives – require evidence-led political change on how societal value is captured and measured, which in turn informs and incentivises different policy choices and resource allocation.

  • The work will support increased public awareness and political engagement

GDP: how the process currently works

Research track

Forensic analysis showing how GDP is constructed and all of the relevant processes, organisations and actors. Analysis of real world consequences of using one economic measure as the benchmark for a wide range of decisions and allocations.

Policy to action track

Stakeholder mapping down to individual level. Regular analysis of and commentary on political and media coverage. Foster public interest in and discussion of the principles and theories which shape societal choices and spending priorities at global, national and local levels.

Measurement, value and values.

Research track
Policy to action track

Evidence suggests a growing gulf between how progress is counted - and what matters to ordinary people. This programme gets beyond a narrow focus on the market, production and consumption - to better count broader contributions to the wellbeing of people and planet.  

  1. Conceptual analysis of GDP in context of economic and political thinking, and schools of thought.

  2. Analysis of value - which things are counted and which things are not counted, because they are seen as 'externalities' - and what the justification is.

  3. Discussion of moral and values-based influence on measurement.

  4. Analysis of the relationship between measurement, incentives and change.

  5. Discussion of major alternative approaches, with particular reference to SDG priorities and measurement from the base rather than average or apex.

  1. Real world, real time illustrations of the research written for non-specialists: targeted on media, business, CSOs, public and politicians, to inform societal narratives, campaigning and advocacy organisations.

  2. Examples of how the GDP process impacts the political process and people’s choices and lives.

  3. Public and political outreach on key alternatives especially poverty/inequality focused.

  4. Engagement at community and popular narrative level, to inform across social spectrum and age groupings, respecting and reinforcing the capacity of people to make informed choices. on what they value, not just what they buy

Political economy of GDP and alternatives.
How change happens.

Research track

Structures, (institutions to individuals) power relationships and incentives for change or status quo.
Wellbeing approaches as step towards more fundamental approach.
Analysis of how other changes in thinking and policy have (or have not) been successful, over what time scales and under what conditions.

Policy to action track

Identification of who can make change.
Interests and constraints they face.

Analysis of real world consequences of over-reliance on GDP as proxy for societal and global wellbeing and progress
Steps to engage with and mobilise Individuals and alliances to promote change.
Communication and engagement to turning evidence into a wide range of outputs.

    We will shortly be adding a list of books and references on the themes of measuring wellbeing and 'beyond GDP'. For more information please contact

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