The common theme on the first day of the 6th OECD World Forum was that what we measure matters for what we do. At the launch of the reports of the High Level Expert Group (HLEG), co-chair and Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph E. Stiglitz said, “If we do not look at the things that matter in life – whether that is inequalities, how people feel they are doing, their health and capabilities, or environmental sustainability – we cannot make the right choices for people, societies and the planet.”
Stiglitz launched Beyond GDP and For Good Measure with his HLEG co-chairs, the leading well-being economist Jean-Paul Fitoussi and the OECD Chief Statistician Martine Durand. In Beyond GDP, the co-chairs argue that we need to develop dashboards of what really matters to people’s lives. For Good Measure presents the latest findings from leading economists, political scientists, psychologists and statisticians, on selected issues within the broader agenda on defining and measuring well-being.
The launch of the reports followed the first morning of the Forum, which opened with remarks from the President of Korea, the OECD Secretary-General, the Statistics Korea Commissioner, and the Korean Deputy Prime Minister, who all emphasised that broad measures of well-being are key for designing better policies.
HRH Princess Laurentien of the Netherlands, in her keynote address, said to the people in the room and those watching online that if we are not delving into the human feelings behind our statistics, we might be measuring the wrong thing, and therefore making the wrong interventions.
The panellists in the session on how the future will affect well-being discussed how while there is no way to truly know what the future looks like, we can decide what we would desire the future to look like and then design accordingly how to achieve this.
The afternoon sessions opened with author Julia Hobsbawm, who argued that policy makers should address the issue of social health in addition to mental and physical health. Hobsbawm said this was only more pressing in the era of the digital transformation, and proposed including social health in measures of well-being.
Data is not oil, the participants in the session on digitalisation and well-being agreed. Whether the digital transformation has overall positive or negative effects, however, is up to us to decide. As noted by Lorenzo Fioramonti, Deputy Minister of Education, University and Research, Italy: “Technology is not neutral. Some people say: technology will solve all our problems. My experience is that that’s not the case. We need leadership in policy and leadership in education in many ways to drive technology towards positive outcomes”.