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The Happy Planet Index (HPI) measures what matters: sustainable wellbeing for all. It tells us how well nations are doing at achieving long, happy, sustainable lives. This briefing paper offers a short overview of the index and of the 2016 results. You can explore all the data at happyplanetindex.org.
What is altruism? Put simply, it's the wish that other people may be happy. And, says Matthieu Ricard, a happiness researcher and a Buddhist monk, altruism is also a great lens for making decisions, both for the short and long term, in work and in life. In this uplifting TED talk, he looks at our natural tendency to altruism, and how with gratitude, loving kindness and mindfulness we can meet the challenges of today - such as biodiversity loss and population growth - with individual and societal change based on cooperation, sustainable harmony, caring economics and a care for other species.
Oxfam presents new evidence that the gap between rich and poor is growing ever wider and is undermining poverty eradication. This report delves into the causes of the inequality crisis and looks at the concrete solutions that can overcome it. Drawing on case studies from around the world the report demonstrates the impact that rising inequality is having on rich and poor countries alike and explores the different ways that people and governments are responding to it.
Worker cooperatives are a powerful tool for economic and community development. This resource describes their role in creating a more just economy. It provides an overview of the benefits of the cooperative form, with examples of existing cooperatives and quotes from worker-owners. The resource also describes current initiatives to develop cooperatives by nonprofits, as well as government initiatives to spur the growth of the sector.
Is it any surprise that four out of five British citizens want the government to act on inequality? The richest 1% of the UK population are now wealthier than the poorest 50% put together – a disparity that has been growing steadily since the 1970s, and on current trends is set to get even worse. But this isn’t about the politics of envy; nor is it purely about what is morally right or wrong. We have convincing evidence that extreme economic inequality is contributing decisively to financial instability, wasted human capital, lower well-being and mental health, domination of politics by an elite few and low voter turn out. We can no longer afford to ignore our inequality problem. It’s time for action. The authors of this report call on the government to start with two key steps. The first is to set a tangible target to reduce economic inequality, as they have for child poverty. The second is to establish a high-level commission on economic inequality tasked with devising a broad policy agenda to tackle the drivers of inequality. They then identify five high-level goals that must be achieved to address some of the root drivers of economic inequality. Each goal is accompanied with a set of policy area priorities.
Is economic growth always a good thing? Why are people in countries like the US and UK not happier or working fewer hours when GDP has tripled since 1950? Dan O'Neill's thought-provoking...
Almost half of the world’s wealth is now owned by just one percent of the population, and seven out of ten people live in countries where economic inequality has increased in the last 30 years. The World Economic Forum has identified economic inequality as a major risk to human progress, impacting social stability within countries and threatening security on a global scale. This massive concentration of economic resources in the hands of fewer people presents a real threat to inclusive political and economic systems, and compounds other inequalities – such as those between women and men. Left unchecked, political institutions are undermined and governments overwhelmingly serve the interests of economic elites – to the detriment of ordinary people. In this paper, Oxfam shows how extreme inequality is not inevitable, with examples of policies from around the world which have reduced inequality and developed more representative politics, benefiting all, both rich and poor. Oxfam calls on leaders at the 2014 World Economic Forum at Davos to make the commitments needed to counter the growing tide of inequality.
For decades, GDP has enjoyed supreme status as the predominant benchmark of our economic and social progress. In reality, GDP obscures or ignores essential aspects of Americans’ economic and social welfare, as well as important social and environmental dimensions of our national welfare and future well-being. When we hold GDP against other indicators, it’s clear that our policy priorities have been wrong for thirty years. But a pervasive narrative linking GDP and market growth to social progress has shielded our politics from any real accountability for the lack of progress most Americans rightly feel in their everyday lives. 
Decoupling human well-being from resource consumption is at the heart of the Interantional Resource Panel’s (IRP) mandate. It is also at the heart of the Green Economy Initiative of UNEP that has just produced an impressive report on the Green Economy (February 2011). The conceptual framework for decoupling and understanding of the instrumentalities for achieving it are still in an infant stage. The IRP plans to carry out a series of investigations on decoupling, each of which will result in a report. The reports will aim to support the Green Economy Initiative and also to stimulate appropriate policies and action at global, national and local levels. This first report is simply an attempt to scope the challenges. The report presents basic facts and figures on natural resource flows worldwide. Four country studies embedded in the report show that consumption of natural resources is still rising rapidly. Drawing on these data, the report attempts to outline the issues that now need to be addressed to decouple these material and energy flows from social and economic progress.
Enough Is Enough lays out a visionary but realistic alternative to the perpetual pursuit of economic growth—an economy where the goal is enough, not more. Based on the best-selling book by Rob Dietz and Dan O'Neill, the film explores specific strategies to fix the financial system, reduce inequality, create jobs, and more. Drawing on the expertise of Tim Jackson, Kate Pickett, Andrew Simms, Natalie Bennett, and Ben Dyson, Enough Is Enough is the primer for achieving genuine prosperity and a hopeful future for all. Enough Is Enough is produced and directed by film-maker Tom Bliss, and includes illustrations by cartoonist Polyp (see http://polyp.org.uk for more), animations by Henry Edmonds, and title graphics by Cassandra Chu. Funding for the film was provided by the Climate and Geohazard Services hub at the University of Leeds, Berrett-Koehler publishers, and the Urbal Institute.
What Makes Us Healthy? will inspire and support those who want to look again at what they are doing to improve health and wellbeing and to tackle health inequalities. It contains specially commissioned articles on the evidence for the beneficial effects of assets such as social relationships and networks on health and wellbeing; many examples and ideas about how to put asset principles into practice; and support with the tricky issue of evaluation and how to assess whether the new ways of working are having an impact. It is the follow up to the popular and influential 'A Glass Half Full' (Foot & Hopkins 2010). Asset based working is not an alternative to properly funded public services. It challenges how those services are designed and delivered and requires a recasting of the relationship between commissioners, providers, service users and communities. It puts a positive value on social relationships and networks, on self confidence and efficacy and the ability to take control of your life circumstances. It highlights the impact of such assets on people’s wellbeing and resilience and thus on their capacity to cope with adversity including poor health and illness. These are things that need nurturing and supporting more than ever.
Words from the Edge is a film about the unprecedented transition that we are undergoing from a culture of industrial growth and inequality to what must inevitably be more localised, sustainable, living economies. It’s a film about what this shift involves, and what we need to do to get there. Following five ‘ordinary people’ as they look to an uncertain future and explore the steps they can take to face it…Their stories are interwoven with interviews with leaders and pioneers in the field of resilience-building. Interviews with: Rob Hopkins, Vandana Shiva, Richard Heinberg, Naomi Klein,Stephan Harding,Patrick Holden,Giorgos Kallis,Rhamis Kent, Nicole Foss.
'A Glass Half-full' offers a fresh perspective on how to reduce inequalities in community health and wellbeing. It proposes assessing and building on the strengths and resources in a community to increase resilience and social capital, and develop better ways of delivering health outcomes. Mounting evidence shows that when practitioners begin with what communities have – their assets – as opposed to what they don't have - their needs - a community's ability to address those needs increases. So too does its capacity to lever in external assistance. This publication offers local authorities, health practitioners and politicians an introduction to the asset model approach and principles and gives examples of how it is being used in England. It also outlines a set of coherent and structured tools that put asset model principles into practice.
The British Academy presents a collection of opinion pieces on health inequalities from leading social scientists. Each of the authors has written an article, drawing on the evidence base for their particular area of expertise, identifying one policy intervention  that they think local authorities could introduce to improve the health of the local population and reduce health inequalities. The report seeks to help local policymakers improve the health of their communities by presenting evidence from the social sciences that can help reduce inequalities in health. With a foreword from Sir Michael Marmot, the report further explores what The Marmot Review confirmed: that socio-economic inequalities affect health outcomes and that there is a social gradient in health. In some senses this is a social sciences dialogue companion to The Marmot Review. With the current structural changes to public health in England, we hope that this report will be a useful source of information on the evidence base for local policymakers and Directors of Public Health.
This paper makes a number of fundamental proposals to reconsider economics by putting human wellbeing at the centre. It emerges from a pluralist perspective in economics and the ontological, conceptual, axiomatic and methodological propositions that are made lead to the construction of what we call an inclusive economy matrix (IEM). In particular, the paper draws on heterodox economics to redefine the scope of economics, economic agency, rational behaviour and put emphasis on wellbeing rather than welfare. Furthermore, from the acknowledgement of human wellbeing as a three-dimensional concept, the economic aggregation problem is reconsidered and the methodological implications discussed. The IEM is proposed as a comprehensive and robust analytical framework that gives space to bring social equity and sustainable development considerations forward as a priori concerns for economic development. As such, the IEM can serve as a point of departure for formulating new research questions, exploring new relationships between human wellbeing and economic development, and building economic models that bring us closer to people’s realities on the ground.
There are significant opportunities to embed the wellbeing agenda across the Northern Ireland administration, and the models adopted by Scotland and the Republic of Ireland demonstrate what can be achieved with a wellbeing approach. But what are the next steps for embedding the wellbeing agenda in Northern Ireland? This discussion paper reports on the outcomes of the conference the Trust hosted in Autumn 2013 in Belfast on measuring economic performance and societal progress in Northern Ireland, and outlines the next steps of the Carnegie Roundtable on Measuring Wellbeing in Northern Ireland.
This report assesses the impact of the crisis on the subjective well-being of Europeans. In 2011, GDP per capita in 22 out of the then 27 EU Member States was below 2008 levels, and unemployment rates were higher in 25 out of the 27. These indicators demonstrate worrying trends, but the report goes deeper, trying to answer various questions: What is the real impact on people’s lives? Who has been hit hardest? Where have there been positive wellbeing patterns? What explains the variation in well-being across Europe? How can policy increase or stem the fall in well-being in the future? It concludes that the crisis may not be affecting everyone’s well-being equally, nor all aspects of well-being. Well-being has fallen in many EU countries, remaining highest in northern countries. However, falls in wellbeing in many western EU countries have been matched by increases in eastern countries. Population groups with low well-being include those limited by disability or illness and unemployed people.
The Economics of Happiness describes a world moving simultaneously in two opposing directions. On the one hand, and unholy alliance of governments and big business continues to promote globalization and the consolidation of corporate power. At the same time, people all over the world are resisting those policies, and - far from the old institutions of power – they’re starting to forge a very different future. Communities are coming together to re-build more human scale, ecological economies based on a new paradigm – an economics of localization. This discussion guide follows the film, chapter by chapter, expanding on the arguments and pointing to a wealth of resources for further learning, reflection and action. Each chapter begins with a short essay elaborating on the film, followed a set of suggested discussion questions and activities, a short list of recommended readings, links to related organizations, and links to other learning resources (films, lectures, tool-kits, slideshows, etc.)
This working paper considers a recent paper by Professor Angus Deaton (2011) of Princeton University which suggests that advocates of well-being measurement should be more cautious. We argue that Deaton is right to caution governments against expecting large rapid changes in reported national average well-being as a result of changes in economic conditions but that this does not detract from the value of measuring well-being and we discuss the reasons.
In November 2008, Professor Sir Michael Marmot was asked by the then Secretary of State for Health to chair an independent review to propose the most effective evidence-based strategies for reducing health inequalities in England from 2010. The final report, “Fair Society Healthy Lives”, was published in February 2010, and concluded that reducing health inequalities would require action on six policy objectives: 1. Give every child the best start in life. 2. Enable all children, young people and adults to maximise their capabilities and have control over their lives. 3. Create fair employment and good work for all. 4. Ensure healthy standard of living for all. 5. Create and develop healthy and sustainable places and communities. 6. Strengthen the role and impact of ill-health prevention.
It is an encouraging sign that the government has asked the Office for National Statistics (ONS) to consult on the subject of wellbeing. It is part of a growing international recognition that crude and simplistic measures of economic growth, such as GDP or GNP, no longer give a very useful or true picture of human progress.It chimes significantly with our findings that so many health and social indicators no longer seem positively correlated with increases in average living standards in developed countries. This suggests that we need to look at the state of social relations within our society in order to really understand the best ways to improve our lives - and in particular at the level of inequality which directly and profoundly influences the quality of those social relations. We encourage everyone to read our submission and to share it as widely as possible through all their networks. The more the links between inequality, the quality of social relations and general wellbeing are understood, the more compelling the arguments for reducing inequality in the UK will become.