NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Beyond GDP? Welfare across Countries and Time

Charles I. Jones, Peter J. Klenow

NBER Working Paper No. 16352
Issued in September 2010
NBER Program(s):   EFG

We propose a simple summary statistic for a nation’s flow of welfare, measured as a consumption equivalent, and compute its level and growth rate for a broad set of countries. This welfare metric combines data on consumption, leisure, inequality, andmortality. Although it is highly correlatedwith per capita GDP, deviations are often economically significant: Western Europe looks considerably closer to U.S. living standards, emerging Asia has not caught up as much, and many African and Latin American countries appear farther behind. Each of the four components we introduce plays an important role in accounting for these differences.

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This paper was revised on December 5, 2011

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w16352

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