The future of the left since 1884

Measure for measure: Economic indicators for a fair and prosperous society

These proposed measures are not ends in themselves, but means to delivering the resources and capabilities people need to lead a good life. If the aim is to achieve major structural change to the economy, we should state clearly, in numbers, what types of shifts matter and what degree of change might constitute success.


The global financial crisis of 2008 did not just reveal the structural defects in our economy. It also laid bare the inadequacy of how government measured success. Even as bankers at some of the world’s leading financial institutions were clearing their desks, our main headline indicators provided almost no warning signals of the catastrophic events that were unfolding.

What we measure – and how we measure it – matters. ‘Measure for Measure’ sets out proposals for 20 alternative measures of economic progress that most reflect the direction needed to achieve fairness, sustainability and long-term prosperity. Rather than the three most commonly used economic measures – GDP, inflation and unemployment – these new measures reflect two overlapping priorities: the need for a more sustainable, long-term economic model; and a commitment to broader-based, more equitable growth.

At their core is an overall headline measure of British economic success: rising prosperity for typical families, measured by real median incomes.

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Copies are available priced £4.95 from the Fabian Society bookshop – call 020 7227 4900, email or send a cheque payable to “The Fabian Society” to 61 Petty France, London, SW1H 9EU.


Andrew Harrop

Andrew Harrop is general secretary of the Fabian Society.


Robert Tinker

Robert Tinker was senior researcher at the Fabian Society until August 2015. His research covers a number of areas, including public finance and economic issues, poverty and inequality and public services.

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