News & Media

We Must Begin to Measure What Really Matters” - Nash Launches Measuring Quality of Life in Ireland Bill  

24 November 2020

Statement by Ged Nash TD
Spokesperson on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform
Ged
  • Labour Bill proposes new and holistic way of measuring economic, social and environmental wellbeing and progress 
  • New quality of life metrics will help policy makers target resources to where they are needed most.

Labour T.D for Louth & East Meath, Ged Nash today (Tuesday, 24th November) introduced a Bill to the Dáil, which would use quality of life indicators alongside traditional economic metrics like GDP and GNI* to better target national resources to where they are needed most. 

Introducing the groundbreaking legislation  Deputy Nash said:

“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.

 

“Labour’s Measuring Quality of Life Bill is not about abandoning the traditional economic indicators of GDP or the new hybrid model, GNI*. 

 

“However, we must recognise the fundamental shortcomings and limitations inherent in these measures if used purely in isolation as has been the case this far. 

 

“Since 2016, we have had a Government who viewed economic growth as an end in itself. In their eyes the economy may have been working - but for too many citizens on low pay, struggling with housing and childcare costs it certainly wasn’t working. 

 

“We must ask ourselves this. What is the point of being one of the wealthiest countries in the world if people’s health services are inadequate, if their life expectancy or their life chances are not improving, or if the air we breathe, the water we drink and all the amenities we enjoy are not of a high standard?

 

“We have to start objectively measuring these matters because they are just as important as any economic growth statistics and a vital part of the social contract between the State and its citizens.   

       

“This Bill seeks to address two deficiencies in our national statistics. The first relates to our lack of genuine progress indicators and the second relates to the lack of a set of ‘national distributional accounts’ – a set of accounts that measure the distribution of economic growth between different income earners, both before and after tax.

 

“It will confer functions on the Central Statistics Office and the National Economic and Social Council in relation to the publication of indices, to be known as Genuine Progress Indicators.

 

“This will empower both organisations to 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.

 

“In addition, the publication of National Distributional Accounts under this proposed legislation will ensure that both income and wealth inequality are reported upon to close the gap between the have littles and have lots.

 

“As we approach the centenary of the founding of the State, Labour’s Measuring Quality of Life Bill will provide the tools to chart a new course for our country and create a new social contract for all our citizens.”