New report calls for rethinking measures, framework of economic activity
What does a healthy economy look like? That depends who you ask. An economist might point to charts and data about where jobs are or how money is being spent. A politician would have a different answer, pointing to a program that’s designed to improve lives … or cut taxes for others.
The American Academy of Arts and Sciences took a different approach. The Commission on Reimagining the Economy asked, what if the economy was measured, and considered, based on how people are doing?
“An economy should be judged not only on its efficiency and productivity but on its ability to improve people’s well-being,” said the commission’s report, Advancing a People-First Economy. “A lack of economic security and opportunity fosters distrust of the political and economic system, a distrust that threatens the nation’s social fabric, its institutions, and the ability of those institutions to provide security and opportunity for Americans.”
A disclosure: I am a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and participated in the commission as a member. I also conducted listening sessions with small groups of people in Arizona, Montana and virtually.
One of the commission’s premises is the link between a healthy economy and democracy. David Oxtoby, the Academy's president, put it this way: “We sought to ascertain and advance how Americans are doing, not simply how the economy is doing. That commitment enabled us to work across disciplines and divides to develop the final report and the data dashboard.”
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