Redefining prosperity: creating an economy that works for everyone

The inspirational leader of New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern, has helped bring wellbeing economics onto the front pages saying, “These simple economic measures aren’t indicative of the wellbeing of our people or our environment”.

New Zealand are currently finalising their first full wellbeing budget which ensures that every penny spent by their treasury is justified by its impact on the wellbeing of people and planet. In 2018, the chief advisor to the NZ treasury told Happy City Chief Executive, Liz Zeidler, that they are hoping, in time, to translate this down to state and local level across the Country.

We don’t have to wait and hope in the UK because the Thriving Places Index does just that for every Local Authority area across England and Wales.

Now in its third year, Happy City’s Thriving Places Index (TPI) paints a clear picture of what a thriving place looks like and demonstrates a new vision of an economic system that helps everyone to do well, now and in the future. It’s designed to challenge the current paradigm that sees societal progress only through a monetary lens.

The TPI consists of a broad set of indicators from datasets produced by established national data agencies, such as the Office for National Statistics, Public Health England and the Index of Multiple Deprivation. This year, will release scores and analysis for all 373 local authorities in England and Wales.

Happy City select indicators that measure or provide a proxy for something that is known to influence wellbeing. This includes, for example, good physical and mental health, a good job, access to green space, affordable and good quality housing, and educational opportunities. The indicator data topic must also be something that it is within the remit of a local authority to influence through policy and action. 

Thriving Places Index
Happy City’s Thriving Places Index

But the TPI is about much more than just what a local authority can influence through policy – it’s about the sum total of everyone’s work, action and efforts in the economy. It aims to show that a ‘wellbeing economy’ (i.e. an economy focused on the wellbeing of people and planet) is not a pipe dream – in fact, people, organisations and businesses across the country are already creating it. 

The deep layers of data, research and analysis that sit behind the TPI show how motivated individuals, organisations and businesses can work to create the conditions for wellbeing. For example a, renewable energy project will influence indicators which show how much renewable electricity is generated in a local authority area – but it might also positively influence factor such as air quality, health, local business, employment, community cohesion and more. 

The TPI helps us understand how to create fair, supportive and pleasant places to live by looking at a much broader picture of what people actually care about. We care about feeling safe, we care about being healthy, and we care that other people who live with us have access to these things too.

It shows clearly that everything we do is connected – WE create the economy and that’s possible to redefine prosperity. A wellbeing economy provides a lens through which to design a new way of doing business, politics and economics where justice for people and planet are balanced and prioritised.

The 2019 results for 373 local authorities in England and Wales are now live at www.thrivingplacesindex.org as well as maps and reports with analysis from the 2019 scores. There’s an immense body of data, research and analysis behind the TPI but we’ve worked hard to make the results accessible and practical to use. 

Go to the site to see the latest results and analysis or get in touch with Happy City to find out more about using the Thriving Places Index to guide your work at thrivingplaces@happycity.org.uk.

This is a guest blog by Happy City.

Happy City
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