The Comprehensive Wealth project encourages Canadians and their governments to move “beyond GDP” as the fundamental measure of societal progress.
Wealth is, simply put, the sum total of the assests we own as a society. It is important because it represents the resources we have at hand today to ensure that social and economic activities continue in the future. For this reason, measures of wealth provide an important lens through which to regard future prospects for well-being.
In the past, wealth was defined to include only produced and financial assets. What we do know about it is, then, focussed mainly on these economic assets. In recent years, however, our understanding has broadened considerably and it is now defined to include natural, human and social capital in addition to produced and financial capital. Collectively, these five asset categories have come to be known as comprehensive wealth. Each of the five is important in its own right because each is an input into the broad “societal production function” for well-being.
A key question is whether the size of the comprehensive wealth portfolio is growing over time. If it is, then national development is likely sustainable and well-being should be stable or increasing. If it isn’t, development is on an unsustainable path and well-being will certainly decline at some point. This is why measures of comprehensive wealth are increasingly understood to be crucial to assessing societal progress.
The principal objective of the comprehensive wealth project is to encourage Canadians and their governments to move “beyond GDP” as the fundamental measure of societal progress. By preparing and carefully communicating a report measuring comprehensive wealth in Canada, this project aims to help shift the focus of the public and governments toward a more balanced perspective on progress.
Canadians Deserve Decision-Making Based on More than GDPIf Canadians (or citizens anywhere) want well-being to continue for their children and grandchildren, the country’s comprehensive wealth must be sustained. Read More
Forget GDP – for the 21st Century We Need a Modern Growth MeasureOur radar to track progress is far from satisfactory. Read More
Comprehensive Wealth in Canada 2018 – Measuring What Matters in the Long TermComprehensive wealth measures the country’s produced, natural, human, financial and social capital. Read More
Comprehensive Wealth in Canada: IISD's report launchOn December 1, 2016, IISD publicly released a report on measuring Comprehensive Wealth, an innovative approach, never before undertaken in Canada, to measuring wealth that looks beyond merely GDP. Read More
Raisons pour lesquelles nous devrions nous inquiéter à propos de la richesse du CanadaIn a French-language blog post, Scott Vaughan and Robert Smith explain why we need to reconsider how we measure wealth in Canada. Read More
Comprehensive Wealth in Canada—Measuring what matters in the long runThis report seeks to introduce the concept of comprehensive wealth to Canadians and outline why it should be considered an essential complement to the other measures such as gross domestic product. Read More
Economics and Sustainability: IISD begins work to measure Canada's wealth and continues to examine models used to count the economic costs of climate changeThe Ivey Foundation has funded IISD to prepare an inclusive wealth report for Canada. This one-page document outlines the issue, and describes what the report will look like, and what its purpose is. Read More