"Social production" accounts for 14% of Australian GDP
LF52 | A novel way to measure what actually matters highlights the overlooked value of women, older people and the unemployed
How do we start to move towards a fairer, more equitable and less ageist economy? We need to start to measure the right things. The Australian government is committed to doing this with their new Measuring What Matters initiative, and will be releasing a set of measures shortly, building on the OECD framework.
The University of Sydney’s Mental Wealth Initiative recently published a report which put the value of social production in Australia at $287 billion, 14% of the economy. This comes from a putting a value on what too many of us take for granted.
They define social production as: ‘unpaid contributions to society through activities such as volunteering, the education and care of children, building community infrastructure, ecological restoration and caring for country, providing a crowd service, or informal mentoring.’
They applied a measure of median income to the hours spent on social tasks, and found that the groups that made the most contributions were: women, people those over 65, and the unemployed.
Without a more robust social fabric - which is typically built and strengthened by these kinds of informal acts of ‘social production’ - our societies are unlikely to have the social cohesion, democratic legitimacy and compassion that will be needed to tackle the existential challenges of climate change, pandemics and rampant AI overlords.
The Mental Wealth Initiative is now developing a framework for measuring ‘mental wealth’ as a improved measure of GDP, that takes into account the social contributions made by individuals as well as the investment in social infrastructure by governments.
For those looking to develop bold systems change models in ageing and longevity, incorporating these kinds of new measures of societal success will be a vital component. I look forward to diving deeper into mental wealth in coming newsletters.
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