Beyond GDP in Italy

In February 2015 a group of Parliament members presented a bill entitled "Provisions for the use of well-being indicators in public policy-making". The objective, according to the introduction, is “introducing indicators of well-being, environmental sustainability, gender equality and social quality with means provided for by national law in the elaboration, adoption and assessment of public policies, so that they can be effective in improving welfare conditions for the country as a whole.”

This proposal takes one step further the work on alternative indicators to GDP. Italy’s “Equitable and Sustainable Well-being”, or Benessere Equo e Sostenibile (BES) in Italian, was adopted in 2013. The analytical framework was used to extend the analysis to the provincial and municipal levels, and the BES is now the reference measuring Italian well-being at all levels, for policy-makers, scholars as well as for civil society. The process of selection and refinement has led to a set of tested indicators on the basis of which synthetic indices have also been proposed to facilitate effective communication of results.

Synthetic indexes are computed for health, education and training, cultural participation, employment, quality of employment, economic hardship, income and inequality, social relations, security, homicides and subjective well-being. Thus, it is possible to assess the impact of the recent economic crisis on all of these dimensions of wellbeing in Italy, indicating that all have shown some deterioration. The level of income and employment decreased as expected, yet a more intense impact is shown for other linked phenomena such as the rise of small-scale criminality and the fall of cultural activities, demonstrating the way in which the crisis has had a negative impact not only on the economic life but also on the social fabric of Italy.

Excerpted from the Social Watch Italy Report 2016, authored by Soana Tortora, Jason Nardi and Tommaso Rondinella