The Inclusive Wealth Index. A Sustainability Indicator, Really?

Abstract : Among recent high-profile propositions to revise national accounts and to provide new indicators of sustainability and well-being, the Inclusive Wealth Framework and the related Inclusive Wealth Index (thereafter IWI), first released during the "Rio+20" Conference, undoubtedly stand out as the most promising endeavour. Built up at the confluence of welfare, development and sustainability economics, the indicator is supposed to bring information about the wealth of nations and their sustainability, in a comprehensive way. The inclusive wealth framework is nevertheless fraught with limitations, due to questionable theoretical assumptions and gaps in data availability. We propose a critical appraisal of the index and its underlying framework. Our conclusion is that these limitations undermine its capacity to reach the goals it was given, and to fulfill the requirements of a satisfactory sustainability indicator. Special emphasis is put on the misleading pretension of (neoclassical) economics to handle highly complex, uncertain and manifold issues, even on theoretical bases renovated by dropping some optimality assumptions. We briefly sketch alternative research avenues, that appear more conducive to the endorsement of strong sustainability, and less prone to economism. Alleged theoretical consistency and elegance should not beguile us when choosing indicators for sustainable and prosperous societies.
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Preprints, Working Papers, ...
FMSH-WP-2014-71. 2014


https://halshs.archives-ouvertes.fr/halshs-01011250
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Géraldine Thiry, Philippe Roman. The Inclusive Wealth Index. A Sustainability Indicator, Really?. FMSH-WP-2014-71. 2014. <halshs-01011250>

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