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The Brief

Carnegie UK actively promote placing wellbeing at the centre of policymaking and approaches to government across the UK. In order to tell whether policies and actions are having an effect on collective wellbeing – both positively or negatively – we need a new measure of social progress.

In 2020 we launched our Gross Domestic Wellbeing (GDWe) index for England. GDWe offers a holistic alternative to GDP as a measure of social progress. Using the framework and data in the Office for National Statistics Measures of National Wellbeing Dashboard, we have developed – for the first time – a tool that provides a single figure for GDWe in England.

Our first report which was published in December 2020 received significant cross-party support. It mapped GDWe against GDP for the past six years. In August 2021 we released an updated GDWe score for 2019/20.

Our analysis in 2020 found that GDWe in England was in decline, and our August 2021 update showed it had declined further, even before the COVID-19 pandemic began.

We subsequently reviewed the indicators used in the ONS Measures of National Wellbeing Dashboard, and their alignment with the Carnegie UK SEED domains to identify gaps and any alternative data sources. The national wellbeing dataset underrepresents the importance of democratic wellbeing with only 2 indicators out of 41 measuring this aspect of our lives. We therefore focused on this aspect for our 2022 report GDWe: A spotlight on democratic wellbeing, which shows that democratic wellbeing in England is under severe threat.

With GDWe in decline and gaps in information about aspects of wellbeing, urgent action is needed to refocus decision-making on wellbeing.

As part of this programme, we also support the Future Generations Bill currently in the House of Lords, which strives to ensure that public bodies act responsibly and in a way that observes the Future Generations Principle, setting wellbeing outcomes and focusing on prevention.

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Jennifer Wallace


Hannah Ormston

Policy and Development Officer

Rachel Heydecker

Senior Policy and Development Officer