A procedure for globally institutionalizing a ‘beyond-GDP’ metric

Jeroen C.J.M. van den Bergh*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


If governments are serious about meeting environmental and social goals, they should overcome dominance of the GDP indicator in political discourse. Institutionalizing a beyond-GDP metric would be an essential step, in interaction with a shift in the direction of an “agrowth” paradigm. For a significant step forward, a permanent UN panel could be charged to explore the options and prepare a metric for global implementation. This essay outlines the choice spectrum and provides criteria and guidelines for the metric-selection process. It is suggested that the panel considers four critical dimensions of potential alternatives, namely means versus ends, objective versus subjective information, aggregate index versus multiple indicators, and monetary versus other units. In deciding about each dimension, serious attention needs to be given to the psychological-communicative appeal of the resulting options, so as to guarantee a fluent uptake of the selected beyond-GDP metric in society, media and politics. The combined environmental and inequality crises at national and global scales make this the right time to finally translate a respectable history of beyond-GDP thinking into practical action.

Original languageEnglish
Article number107257
Number of pages5
JournalEcological Economics
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2022


  • Beyond GDP
  • Economic growth
  • Gross domestic product
  • United Nations


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