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Government to measure wellbeing

26 November 2010

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The government will measure the nation’s wellbeing from next April to help people in the UK achieve “the good life”, the Prime Minister is set to announce.

David Cameron will insist that happiness cannot be delivered by prosperity alone, and that the coalition must promote quality of life as well as economic growth.

A public debate about what matters most to people will be led by the Office for National Statistics, which will then have responsibility for devising the measures of progress.

It is hoped that the information gathered will provide ministers with a “general picture of how life is improving” and help the country re-evaluate its priorities.

Mr Cameron will say his goal in politics is to “make a better life for people”, insisting that the government can help improve wellbeing.

“From April next year we will start measuring our progress as a country not just by how our economy is growing, but by how our lives are improving, not just by our standard of living, but by our quality of life.”

He will deny that the move means sidelining the country’s economic recovery, but will insist that ministers need to take a broader perspective.

“We’ll continue to measure GDP as we’ve always done,” Mr Cameron will say.

“But it is high time we admitted that, taken on its own, GDP is an incomplete way of measuring a country’s progress.”

He will quote the former US senator Robert Kennedy, who described how GDP “measures everything… except that which makes life worthwhile”.

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