Sandrine Dixon-Declave and Eileen McLeod advocate for a shift in public policy from prioritizing GDP growth to prioritizing collective well-being. They argue that the current economic and financial system, focused on maximizing growth and short-term profits, has limitations and imposes enormous costs on people and the planet. It is necessary to change the relationship between the economy and the earth and serve people, meet everyone’s needs, assess and measure what really matters, redefine social progress, and strive for long-term sustainability to promote healthy living.
To realize a welfare economy, an integrated policy framework aimed at preventing crises and shocks from occurring in the first place by fundamentally addressing today’s challenges and enhancing the well-being and resilience of societies is needed. Secondly, broader value-based economic, social, and environmental indicators that prioritize outcomes such as life expectancy, inequality, poverty, clean environments, and access to public services should be adopted. Finally, a more collaborative and participatory bottom-up approach should be grounded.
Countries like Scotland and Finland are leading the way in pioneering policies based on preventive, long-term, and intergenerational perspectives. The Wellbeing Economy Governments (WEGo) of Scotland, Iceland, New Zealand, Finland, and Wales are working together to exchange expertise, knowledge, and best practices. They take a unique approach to incorporating welfare considerations into policy-making, backed by new measures of human development and economic progress. The EU and the rest of the world have much to learn from the experiences of these early adopters.
Bipartisan talks on growth ahead in Brussels over the next three days will guide the de-escalation of existing neoliberal economies compared to economies that are fairer and more able to withstand the challenges of the 21st century. The authors hope to inspire people, leverage the knowledge and experience of WEGo countries, and generate bipartisan support for a more inclusive and equitable economic model. Building a welfare economy during this difficult time may seem daunting and require political courage but the benefits become apparent. By prioritizing collective well-being, Europe can ensure that it will thrive, better prepared and more resilient to face the challenges of the future.