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BRAINPOoL Final Conference: Towards a Beyond GDP Narrative
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BRAINPOoL Final Conference: Towards a Beyond GDP Narrative

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  • 1. Beyond GDP: From Measurement to Politics and Policy Development of a compelling narrative Paris 24 March 2014
  • 2. 1. The challenge 2. Labour markets, green economy and the narrative 3. Theoretical underpinning 4. Next steps
  • 3. A narrative creates appeal and credibility • A good narrative wins votes – it has to have appeal but also give credibility to a party‟s programme – by also explaining • So Reagan‟s narrative had appeal and credibility – Cut taxes (direct voter appeal) – We would be better off if we got the government off our backs (explanation) – Based on a neo-liberal version of neo-classical economics (theory, credibility) • It is easy but not enough to attack this kind of thing – we need a Beyond GDP narrative of this type and we don‟t have one • „Wellbeing‟ and „sustainability‟ associated with what have been at best politically weak messages (happiness, constraints) • So what is electorally appealing about new policies? • And what kind of theory will give this credibility?
  • 4. 1. The challenge 2. Labour markets, green economy and the narrative 3. Theoretical underpinning 4. Next steps
  • 5. The ‘GDP’ approach to labour market policy… GrowthEfficient Labour markets Jobs
  • 6. …is associated with a slogan summarising the narrative GrowthEfficient Labour markets Jobs Jobs and growth
  • 7. The ‘beyond GDP’ approach aims to maximise wellbeing GrowthEfficient Labour markets Jobs Good Jobs (security, work life balance, conditions, pay etc)
  • 8. …and recognises there is sometimes a trade-off GrowthEfficient Labour markets Jobs Good Jobs (security, work life balance, conditions, pay etc)
  • 9. It is difficult to optimise GrowthEfficient Labour markets Jobs Good Jobs (security, work life balance, conditions, pay etc)
  • 10. So the aim is to create the conditions to soften trade-off GrowthEfficient Labour markets Jobs Good Jobs (security, work life balance, conditions, pay etc) Economic structures and norms
  • 11. …requiring a full range of government actions… GrowthEfficient Labour markets Jobs Good Jobs (security, work life balance, conditions, pay etc) Economic structures and norms Active government – the ‘entrepreneur -ial state’
  • 12. …and an alternative narrative GrowthEfficient Labour markets Jobs Good Jobs (security, work life balance, conditions, pay etc) Economic structures and norms Active government – the ‘entrepreneur -ial state’ Jobs and growth The state securing good jobs
  • 13. Can this convince? • We are not there yet – growth is still seen as the sign of economic policy success • However… – jobs always feature in polling as a top concern, and – some (UK) evidence of shift in focus from growth to whether life is getting better • Potentially opening space for – median real wages – other job related drivers of wellbeing…security, equality (fairness), decent living standards for all, good work • And the broader message: – markets deliver growth but growth doesn‟t deliver these good things – so we need collective (government) action….
  • 14. As sometimes framed, the green economy problem is unsolvable x Maximise wellbeing by maximising aggregate consumption Live within environmental limits
  • 15. There are two strategies dealing with this – green growth… A green economy Maintain growth and jobs by investing in the green economy Live within environmental limits
  • 16. …and decoupling wellbeing from consumption A green economy Maintain growth and jobs by investing in the green economy Live within environmental limits Maintain wellbeing growth but restrict or change aggregate consumption growth
  • 17. Both involve lower/changed aggregate consumption vs b.a.u. A green economy Maintain growth and jobs by investing in the green economy Live within environmental limits Maintain wellbeing growth but restrict or change aggregate consumption growth
  • 18. So other elements have to balance consumption in the narrative…
  • 19. For example… • FAIRNESS – Those who can afford the burden pay their share
  • 20. For example… • FAIRNESS – Those who can afford the burden pay their share • SECURITY – Reducing environmental risk – but also jobs, housing, income, health – Language of “securing” and “protecting”
  • 21. For example… • FAIRNESS – Those who can afford the burden pay their share • SECURITY – Reducing environmental risk – but also jobs, housing, income, health – Language of “securing” and “protecting” • WEALTH – Collective and individual; linked to security – and basis for quality of life – Language of “building” and “improving”
  • 22. For example… • FAIRNESS – Those who can afford the burden pay their share • SECURITY – Reducing environmental risk – but also jobs, housing, income, health – Language of “securing” and “protecting” • WEALTH – Collective and individual; linked to security – and basis for quality of life – Language of “building” and “improving” • QUALITY OF LIFE – Now and in the future – Based on public engagement to define the important, therefore local
  • 23. 1. The challenge 2. Labour markets, green economy and the narrative 3. Theoretical underpinning 4. Next steps
  • 24. There is a wealth of theory that can be drawn on – for example… • Outcomes – Subjective wellbeing data as a guide to what to aim for (Wellbeing science) – Worker interests – including fulfilment (eg Marxists) – Social relations (Communitarians) – The resources and capabilities needed to function (Capabilities approach) • Explanations – The natural tendency of markets to create inequality (eg Galbraith) – The natural tendency of financial markets to create instability (eg Minsky) – Institutional power relations rather than markets as key to explaining (Institutionalists) – Land as a factor of production (Ecological economists) – Social reproduction which occurs in the home (Feminist political economists) • What we do to get there – Government as the legitimate and effective driver of outcomes (Social democrats) But more work needed of course – both to synthesise and create theory
  • 25. 1. The challenge 2. Labour markets, green economy and the narrative 3. Theoretical underpinning 4. Next steps
  • 26. Next steps • Democratic renewal – Work with people – including at local level – to define what is important, eg jobs – Link to work with parliamentarians (participative with representative democracy) • Identify policies – What is needed to deliver what is important? How is this new? • Communications – Different messages and language for different audiences – same fundamentals – Positive messages reflecting what is important • Indicators – Part of the narrative: research effectiveness of alternatives (index/dashboard) – Statisticians to develop their role as agents of change • Business – Establish the business version of the Beyond GDP narrative • Link to theory of the economy – Synthesise existing work (eg how will the economy work at low/zero growth?) – Test starting axioms (neo-classical vs positive economy) • Progress reports – (eg mapping of the 28 EU governments)

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