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Nicola Sturgeon: wellbeing is as fundamental as GDP

Brian Johnson

Nicola Sturgeon: wellbeing is as fundamental as GDP

Sturgeon's speech came on the same day as an independent economic report in Scotland was released, finding that Scotland slipped to the bottom third of OECD countries in terms of wellbeing

Nicola Sturgeon has said that the goal of Scotland’s economy should be people’s “collective wellbeing”.

The First Minister has argued that wellbeing is “as fundamental as GDP” when measuring success and that a change of approach is needed to meet challenges involved in decarbonising the economy.

Sturgeon was speaking at the Wellbeing Economy Alliance conference in Edinburgh on the same day as an independent economic report in Scotland was released, finding that Scotland slipped to the bottom third of OECD countries in terms of wellbeing.

The report by economist John McLaren placed Scotland 21st out of 32 countries, finding it had slipped five places between 2006 and 2018.

It looked at range of measures including income, education, longevity and inclusivity.

Scotland’s “very poor life expectancy performance” remains its weakest area.

But “relatively poor Scottish performance” in education and GDP over that period is what is responsible for the drop in ranking.

The Scottish Government has made commitments to investigating how a “wellbeing economy” in Scotland could be created.

It established a Wellbeing Economy Governments Group last year along with the governments of Iceland and New Zealand.

The group is expected to grow in membership this year.

The proposals set out in Sturgeon’s speech include hosting a meeting of the group at the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow in November.

Sturgeon said: “Scotland is redefining what it means to be a successful nation by focusing on the broader wellbeing of the population as well as the GDP (Gross Domestic Product) of the country.

“The goal and objective of all economic policy should be collective wellbeing. This broader approach is at the very heart of our economic strategy which gives equal importance to tackling inequality as economic competitiveness.

“It is why we are so committed to fair work and making sure that work is fulfilling and well paid and why we are acting to ensure a just transition to a carbon zero economy where no one is left behind.

“Putting wellbeing at the heart of our approach means we can focus on a wider set of measures which reflect on things like the health and happiness of citizens as well as economic wealth to create a world that considers the quality of a person’s life to be as precious an asset as financial success.”  

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