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This paper explores a new theoretical and empirical approach to the assessment of human well-being, relevant to current challenges of social fragmentation in the presence of globalization and technological advance. We present two indexes of well-being—solidarity (S) and agency (A)—to be considered alongside the standard indexes of material gain (G) and environmental sustainability (E). The four indexes—SAGE—form a balanced dashboard for evaluating well-being. The solidarity index covers the needs of humans as social creatures, living in societies that generate a sense of social belonging. The agency index involves people’s need to influence their fate through their own efforts. While “economic prosperity” (material gain) is conventionally measured through GDP per capita, “social prosperity” can be measured through our solidarity and agency indexes, alongside environmental sustainability that is measured through the Environmental Performance Index. The SAGE dashboard is meant to provide a “sage” approach to assessing well-being, since it aims to denote sagacity in the pursuit and satisfaction of fundamental human needs and purposes. Many of the prominent challenges of the 21st century, including the dissatisfaction of population groups who feel left behind by globalization and technological advance, may be viewed in terms of a “decoupling” of economic prosperity from social prosperity. We present a theoretical model that provides a new perspective on the welfare effects of globalization and automation. The dashboard is meant to provide an empirical basis for mobilizing action in government, business, and civil society to promote a recoupling of economic and social prosperity.
Dennis J Snower is founder and President of the Global Solutions Initiative and Professor of Macroeconomics and Sustainability at the Hertie School in Berlin. He was President of the Kiel Institute for the World Economy and Professor of Economics at the Christian-Albrechts-University of Kiel until February 2019.
He is a Senior Research Fellow at the Blavatnik School of Government, as well as a non-resident Fellow of Brookings Institution, Research Fellow at the Center for Economic Policy Research (London), at IZA (Institute for the Future of Work, Bonn), and CESifo (Munich).
In 2017 Dennis was made Co-Chairman of the officially mandated Think 20 Engagement Group (T20), advising the German G20 presidency.
He holds a BA and an MA from New College, Oxford University, and an MA and a PhD from Princeton University. Prior to becoming President of the Kiel Institute, he was Professor of Economics at Birkbeck College, University of London.
He is an expert on labour economics, public policy and inflation-unemployment trade-offs. As part of his research career, he originated the 'insider-outsider' theory of employment and unemployment with Assar Lindbeck, the theory of 'caring economics' with Tania Singer, the theory of 'high-low search; with Steve Alpern, and the 'chain reaction theory of unemployment' and the theory of 'frictional growth' with Marika Karanassou and Hector Sala. He has made seminal contributions to the design of employment subsidies and welfare accounts. He has published extensively on employment policy, the design of welfare systems, monetary and fiscal policy, and the role of psychological motivation systems in economic decision making.
Dr. Katharina Lima de Miranda is a postdoctoral researcher at the Kiel Institute, focusing on the application of behavioral economic insights to sustainable social development. She studied Economics in Kiel and Paris and received her PhD in Economics in Dec. 2016 from Kiel University. In her research she investigates the impact of social interaction and behavioral responses of individual agents on the emergence of global economic problems and proposes possible solutions in view of these results. She currently works in an interdisciplinary research project on Sustainable Wellbeing, developing the Recoupling Dashboard that measures the wellbeing of societies beyond GDP and illustrates the correlation of economic prosperity, social prosperity and environmental sustainability. Furthermore, she works on individual and group decision making with applications to the labor market, health economics or gender equality where she applies experimental methods and designs and implements surveys and experiments.
Her research has a strong policy orientation and she is involved in producing and communicating research based policy advice with the aim to help solving global problems, including the drifting apart of social and economic prosperity. She is a member of the Council for Global Problem-Solving, the T20 Task Force 2020 on “Social Cohesion and the State”, and the Global Solutions Initiative. She has co-authored several policy briefs and participated in international multi-stakeholder conferences, like the Think 20 Summits in Buenos Aires (2018) and Japan (2019). Previously she was a Carlo-Schmid-Fellow and consultant at UNCTAD in Geneva, a visiting professor at Hamburg University and currently she teaches Public Finance in a GIZ funded project at the University of Rwanda.