In the June 2020 issue of the Survey of Current Business, the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) lays out its rationale for and intention to develop a series of indicators concerning economic well-being--such as income distribution, access to health care, human capital, and sustainability. "GDP and Beyond: Priorities and Plans" reviews potential approaches to measuring economic well-being; describes a series of short-term priorities, ongoing work, and longer-term projects; and invites public comment on these priorities and plans. The authors are former BEA director Steve Landefeld, Shaunda Villones, and Alyssa Holdren.
Short-term priorities include (1) compiling a set of measures of economic well-being and growth based on existing statistics from BEA’s core accounts and data from statistical agency partners:
Economic well-being measures, like GDP per capita and employment trends.
Distribution statistics, such as real GDP growth by industry, real personal income per capita by state, and distribution of personal income.
Long-term growth indicators, including trade balances, U.S. budget deficits over time, and trends in U.S. business cycles.
(2) publishing estimates of the distribution of personal income on a regular basis.
Ongoing work includes improving the prices of high-tech goods and services, and expanding a series of supplemental statistics, including integrated accounts for wealth, productivity, and industry-level production; satellite accounts for health care, household production, arts and culture, and outdoor recreation; and trade in value-added statistics used to compile global value chains.
Longer term priorities, for which further research is required, include researching the impact of “free” digital goods and services, measures of aggregate economic welfare, human capital statistics, and natural resource and environmental capital accounts.
The 34-page "GDP and Beyond: Priorities and Plans" is available at https://apps.bea.gov/scb/2020/06-june/0620-beyond-gdp.htm
Supplementing the article are summaries of GDP and Beyond presentations made at the January 2020 AEA annual meeting in San Diego by Angus Deaton, Dale W. Jorgenson, Lisa M. Lynch, Paul Schreyer, Louise Sheiner, and Daniel E. Sichel.
Comments on "GDP and Beyond: Priorities and Plans" can be made to WellBeing@bea.gov.