Keywords: Genuine Progress Indicator, GPI, Index of Sustainable Economic Welfare, ISEW, quality of life, regional development, social welfare, urban?rural, well-being, USA, United States, local level
Opportunities and challenges in applying the Genuine Progress Indicator/Index of Sustainable Economic Welfare at local scales
The closely related Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI) and Index of Sustainable Economic Welfare (ISEW) provide monetised estimates of societal well-being based on economic, social and environmental criteria. Although the first ISEW/GPI estimates were completed at the national scale, there has been recent interest in applying GPI locally and regionally. Similar to national policy decisions, local fiscal, environmental and land use choices can strongly influence well-being. Local GPI estimates present several challenges, including data quality and availability, interpretation of certain components and appropriate application of results. We present a case study from seven counties in northern Vermont, USA from 1950 to 2000. This case study facilitates comparison between county, state and national GPI, and across a small urban?rural gradient. The case study illustrates both the difficulties and value of applying GPI/ISEW at local scales. We find that for recent years in an industrialised nation, it is possible to construct robust GPI estimates that allow comparisons of well-being across regions.