About the research

The effectiveness of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as a measure of how well society is doing has been called into question for some time now. Momentum has been building around the search for alternatives that would better reflect the things that people value. This has extended beyond academia to international institutions like the World Bank and the OECD. National governments are also progressing the issue. The lead has been taken by France - which is independently implementing the recommendations from the Commission led by Joseph Stiglitz and Amartya Sen – and Britain – which has tasked its Office of National Statistics to develop an alternative indicator of well-being to complement GDP. Similar developments are also taking place in Canada, Italy and Australia. No such developments have taken place in Ireland to date.


This research is a three year doctoral research project at the University of Sussex in the UK, which seeks to contribute to the research-base on measures of national progress and well-being in Ireland. The project will take place in three stages. First, it will survey Irish people on the things they value in life. Second, it will create an alternative index of progress based on the things that people value and look at the relationship between this measure and traditional GDP. Finally, it will conduct a series of interviews with policy makers that were influential over the past ten years to better understand the extent to which their decision-making was shaped by the requirement to grow GDP, and the constraints that this posed to adopting alternative economic policy. The research aims to contribute to current debates on Irish economic development and to analyse the financial and economic crisis through a different lens. It will explore the theory that mistakes in how priorities were set and the way in which progress against collective goals was measured played a role that has yet to be explored.


This website has been developed to disseminate information on the project and as a means of gathering data in a questionnaire. Future research updates will be posted here, so please visit again at a later stage.









"Our gross national product ...measures everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile” (Robert Kennedy, University of Kansas, 1968).