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Humankind Index for Scotland measures prosperity beyond GDP

The Sustainable Scotland Network reports on Oxfam’s Humankind Index for Scotland project, which aims to assess Scotland’s prosperity through a multi-dimensional measure of prosperity.

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On 23 April Oxfam Scotland launched the first results from its ‘Humankind Index for Scotland’ project, which aims to assess Scotland’s prosperity through a ‘multi-dimensional measure of prosperity’ that goes beyond traditional economic models such as Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The Index revealed that ‘local’ measures – including access to facilities and living in a clean and healthy environment – were more important to people that factors related to the economy.

What Matters to Scottish People

Through a consultation process involving almost 3000 people – including those from marginalised communities – the project initially sought to understand which aspects of life make a difference to Scots, and produced a weighted set of elements (‘sub-domains’) that people reported as affecting their ability to live well in their communities. Key findings included:

  • Local issues that relate to people’s immediate neighbourhoods contributed 35% of the total weighting generated by the public consultation. These measure include: having facilities you need available locally; being part of a community; access to green and wild spaces; and living in a clean and healthy environment.
  • Factors related to the economy were relatively less important to the people consulted and contributed about 22% of the total. These measures include: work; work satisfaction; having enough money; and financial security. Sufficiency and security of income was found to be more important than high income. The satisfaction derived from work was identified as one of the most important factors in people’s ability to live well.

Scotland’s Prosperity Over Time

The Oxfam Humankind Index also seeks to measure how Scotland is performing against the measures contained in the Index over time. In conjunction with the Fraser of Allander Institute at Strathclyde University, Oxfam calculated that, since 2007-2008, Scotland’s prosperity has increased by 1.2%, boosted principally by improvements in health and community spirit.

The Index also revealed negative changes in secure work; having enough money; financial security and culture. Most reductions in prosperity arose from deteriorations in issues related to the quality and status of the economy.

The Oxfam Humankind Index also indicated that Scotland’s most deprived communities are failing to share in improvements to the country’s overall prosperity.

Commenting on the index, head of Oxfam Scotland Judith Robertson said:

“Measures like GDP are part of a failed economic model. They don’t look at people’s real priorities – things like the quality of their local environment or how good their relationships are with friends and family.

“Our economy shouldn’t just be about growth – it should be about meeting the needs of everyone in Scotland.”

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