Beyond GDP: Measuring social progress at the local level

Published: May 2013 Publication Type: Publication

Authors: Lucia Caistor-Arendar, Nina Mguni

The aim of the Beyond GDP project was to expand our understanding of how we measure societal progress at a local level- in other words, to going beyond monetary measurements to look at the many other aspects which affect quality of life. On a broader level, we aimed to encourage greater use, consistency and development of measures of social progress across municipalities, cities and regions.

This report sets out guiding principles to develop a conceptual framework for non-monetary measurement. The work here builds on the Wellbeing and Resilience Measure (WARM), which was developed by The Young Foundation in November 2010.

The WARM Framework (as outlined in the original 2010 report) can be populated with existing data from a range of sources to illustrate where notable data-gathering gaps might be. Data is mapped at the European, national, and local levels. The framework is then further refined through the use of case studies (ie, does what the data map tell us and what the case studies tell us seem to be in line with each other?).

Our findings so far suggest that the existing administrative infrastructure provides a good foundation to develop a common conceptual framework to measure social progress at a local level, and the data is there as well. However, there are many key terms which have different definitions across the relevant areas, which is a problem to overcome. This report outlines our recommendations on how to respond to this challenge, and build on the aspiration to provide a common understanding of social progress at a local level.

Download a pdf version of this report.