Central Bank Report Highlights Need for ‘Quality of Life’ Indicators

04 February 2021
  • Is Ireland really the most prosperous country in Europe? report highlights limitations of GDP as a measurement of economic and social development
  • Highlights need for new metrics as contained in Labour’s Measuring Quality of Life in Ireland Bill 
  • Forthcoming National Economic Plan must include commitment on robust ‘Quality of Life’ Indicators

With one in four in the State now unemployed, Labour’s finance spokesperson Ged Nash TD has called for a commitment to be made on a new system Quality of Life indicators to better measure Ireland’s social and economic development and the overall wellbeing of citizens.  

He said that the government should commit to such an initiative in the forthcoming National Economic Recovery Plan.

The Central Bank report published today reiterates that GDP is an outdated measure of a country’s performance and success. Deputy Nash has called for the introduction of robust and holistic Quality of Life metrics, as contained in Labour’s recently published Measuring Quality of Life in Ireland Bill 2020.

He said that such a move would enable policy makers to better assess the impact of policy actions on people’s lives and to ensure that government decisions and investments are made on a sound economic, health, social and environmental basis.

The GDP figures may say the economy is working – but for too many citizens on low pay, struggling with housing and childcare costs, this is not the case.

Deputy Nash said:

“Today’s report by the Central Bank confirms what we already know – that the GDP metric alone is an outdated measure that does not take into account real life experiences like economic inequality, the quality of public services or the impact of climate change. Ireland was placed among the fastest growing economies in the world in 2020, while in reality main street and domestic businesses have been devastated by the pandemic, with one-in-four of our citizens now out of work.

“This economic data therefore bears little resemblance to the reality faced by ordinary workers and families operating in the locally traded domestic economy in particular. Nor does it capture the rising rate of inequality during Covid as the gap continues to grow between the have littles and have lots.

“What is the point of being on paper one of the wealthiest countries in the world if public health services are inadequate, if our young people can’t afford a roof over their heads, or if the air we breathe, the water we drink and all the amenities we enjoy are not of a high standard?

“For too long the State has put far too much emphasis on a set of narrow economic metrics to inform government policy at the expense of the overall well-being of our people, the quality of our lived environment and the strength of our social capital. This must change.

“The pandemic has starkly demonstrated the inequalities in our society. There can be no going back to a broken model. We must start to measure what really matters if we are to chart a new course for our country post-Covid.

“Last October I published the Measuring Quality of Life in Ireland Bill building  on work already done by Deputy Brendan Howlin which will take a fuller account of the quality of life and well-being of the community by incorporating environmental and social factors which are not otherwise measured.

“The Government must commit to supporting the passage of Labour’s Measuring Quality of Life in Ireland Bill through the Oireachtas and placing it at the centre of the forthcoming National Economic Plan which will set the priorities and objectives for Ireland’s economic recovery.”

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