The Recoupling Dashboard

The Recoupling Dashboard is a country-specific research tool to measure the wellbeing of societies beyond GDP and illustrates the correlation of economic prosperity, social prosperity and environmental sustainability. The Recoupling Dashboard harmonizes social prosperity in two innovative new indexes (agency and solidarity) alongside two traditional indexes (economic prosperity through GDP and environmental performance) to capture these fundamental dimensions of human wellbeing.

The Recoupling Dashboard’s innovative approach sheds light on the decoupling of societies and provides an empirical basis for mobilizing action in government, business and civil society to promote a recoupling of economic and social progress.

If the purpose of governments and businesses is to promote the public interest, the newly debuted Recoupling Dashboard suggests that government and business decisions include assessments of their impacts on solidarity and agency. This is the first step toward reinventing our governance systems. 

The dimensions of a recoupled society: Solidarity, Agency, Material Gain, Environmental Sustainability – SAGE for short.

The rise of populism, growing nationalism, a backlash against globalization and multilateralism – the world today is defined by great challenges. The main driver is the misunderstanding of what constitutes human wellbeing. In the presence of globalization and technological advances, many countries rely solely on indexes of economic prosperity, like GDP, which are inadequate to measure human wellbeing. In Recoupling Economic and Social Progress (first published in Global Perspectives by University of California Press), the authors, Dennis J. Snower and Katharina Lima de Miranda, propose a new theoretical model that gives a new perspective on the measurement of wellbeing beyond GDP: The Recoupling Dashboard. It introduces two new, innovative indexes, agency and solidarity, they propose be examined alongside economic prosperity as well as environmental sustainability.

The urgent need for Recoupling

In the last four decades, globalization and technological advances have generated significant growth of GDP, but have been accompanied by rising inequality, climate change, a rising sense of disempowerment and social alienation among various population groups. In many countries around the world, economic prosperity, environmental performance and social prosperity are no longer aligned, they are decoupled.

To stop the fragmentation of our societies and to shape a sustainable economy, more than GDP and shareholder value is required to guide governments and businesses. Measuring wellbeing in the 21st century must also take into consideration social solidarity and personal agency, as well as environmental sustainability. A measurement to ensure recoupling of economic and social progress is needed.

To analyze, record and map the conditions for a recoupled society, the Recoupling Dashboard consists of four indexes that embody a SAGE approach to assessing human wellbeing. These indexes aim to denote a wide-ranging sagacity in the pursuit and satisfaction of fundamental human needs and purposes. With the incorporation of agency and solidarity, the Recoupling Dashboard challenges the traditional economic understanding of human wellbeing.

Solidarity (S) covers the needs of humans as social creatures, living in societies that generate a sense of social belonging. The Social Solidarity Index is composed of Inward Solidarity and Outward Solidarity. Inward Solidarity reflects social support received by friends and family. Outward Solidarity is composed of Giving behavior, satisfaction with efforts to deal with the poor, and a Minority rights index. (Updated version as of March 2021)

Agency (A) involves empowerment and covers people’s need to influence their fate through their own efforts. The Agency Index has four components: Confidence in empowering institutions Index, Freedom of life choice, Vulnerable employment and Life expectancy. (Updated version as of March 2021)

Material Gain (G) may be represented by Gross Domestic Product per capita.

Environmental sustainability (E) may be measured by the Environmental Performance Index (EPI).

Summarized on an X-Y-plane, the Recoupling Dashboard gives a visualization of how the relationship between the four dimensions varies. The Recoupling Dashboard provides a view of the average scores across countries. It also makes it possible to depict the characteristics of the dimensions per country.

With further elaboration of the two new indexes solidarity and agency, the Recoupling Dashboard can become a powerful tool to assess how decisions by governments and businesses affect human wellbeing. 

Currently, policy measures are evaluated primarily in terms of their impact on GDP. Similarly, business decisions related to production, employment and future investments are made primarily in terms of maximizing shareholder value. The Recoupling Dashboard is a first step towards reinventing government systems with the aim of recoupling economic and social prosperity.

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