Years of Good Life (YoGL): a Wellbeing Indicator Designed to Serve as Sustainability Criterion

Wolfgang Lutz , Wittgenstein Centre
Erich Striessnig, Wittgenstein Centre (IIASA, VID/ÖAW, WU)
Anna Dimitrova
Anastasia Lijadia, Wittgenstein Centre for Demography and Global Human Capital
Claudia Reiter, Institute for Advanced Studies
Sonja Spitzer, Wittgenstein Centre for Demography and Global Human Capital
Dilek Dilek Yildiz, International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis

Sustainable development (SD) as popularized by the Brundtland Commission and politically enshrined in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) has been the explicit focus of sustainability science. While there is broad agreement that the trend of human wellbeing (W) over time should serve as sustainability criterion, the literature so far has mostly addressed this in terms of its determinants and the change over time in the different capitals contributing to “inclusive wealth” rather than focusing on the trends in W itself. There is broad agreement that an indicator for W should have multiple constituents, clearly going beyond GDP. Thus, we propose a tailor-made indicator to serve precisely this purpose following the specification of six explicit criteria that should be met. The indicator, Years of Good Life (YoGL), is based on the evident fact that in order to be able to enjoy any quality of life, one has to be alive. But since mere survival is not considered as good enough, life years are counted conditional on meeting minimum standards in three objective dimensions (being out of absolute poverty and enjoying physical and cognitive health) and in the subjective dimension of life satisfaction. By focusing directly on W, we avoid some of the still unresolved problems with measuring inclusive wealth, such as discounting the future. We discuss data requirements, inter-temporal dynamics, and provide illustrations for (sub-) populations at different stages of development.

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 Presented in Session P999. Development, Environment and Space