The Recoupling Dashboard: Material Gain

Economists and policymakers have been blindsided by the rise of populism as they mistook non-monetary social phenomena (disempowerment and alienation) for purely monetary phenomena (rising inequality and falling economic mobility). The Recoupling Dashboard shows, however, that GDP per capita and inequality differ from solidarity and agency both in movement over time and comparison across countries. 

The Recoupling Dashboard resolves the misunderstanding of what constitutes wellbeing and what is driving the decoupling of economic prosperity from social prosperity and environmental sustainability. To do so, GDP per capita – as the standard index of material prosperity for most countries – is incorporated as one of the four dimensions within the Recoupling Dashboard. Material wellbeing also serves a recoupled society when taking into account solidarity, empowerment and environmental sustainability. 

Agency and solidarity cannot be adequately covered through a traditional economic focus on GDP

In the last four decades, globalization and technological advances have generated significant growth of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) worldwide. Globalization and technological progress have largely integrated the global economy, characterized by flexible global value chains. 

Globalization has manifested itself primarily through the proliferation of global supply chains, in which multinational enterprises are able to shift production flexibly across geographic regions in response to changes in wages, productivity and business conditions. Technological changes led to a rise in automation and the accompanying shift of routine jobs being done by people to machines. 

But in light of the ways in which globalization and technological advances in the new digital age are proceeding, aggregate economic prosperity, agency and social solidarity are not closely aligned with one another. This disconnect is relevant to the recent rise of nationalism and populism: When economic growth primarily benefits people at the top of the income distribution and is accompanied by reduced social and economic mobility, then it is not surprising that people at the middle and lower reaches of the income distribution should feel disempowered and socially alienated.

People working in one geographic region (such as car manufacturing centers like Detroit or Dagenham) find themselves in competition with their counterparts in distant parts of the world (such as Tokyo) of which they have no knowledge. Under these circumstances, the sudden loss of jobs in response to shifts in global supply chains are often experienced as profoundly disempowering, since it is no longer clear how people are able to secure their jobs and future career paths through their own efforts. The associated collapse of local communities, such as those built around traditional manufacturing plants, lead to the breakup of social ties. The rise of automation and the accompanying shift of routine jobs from people to machines generate a similar sense of disempowerment and alienation.

Broadening the debate: Moving beyond GDP and shareholder value

The Recoupling Dashboard argues that agency and solidarity alongside economic prosperity and environmental sustainability cover fundamental human needs and purposes, present in all cultures. When people’s important material needs have been met, when they feel securely and meaningfully embedded in society, when they have the power to influence their circumstances in accordance with self-determined goals, and when they live respectfully of planetary boundaries, then they achieve a wider sense of human wellbeing than when they simply consume goods and services, which maximize GDP growth. 

To stop the fragmentation of our societies and to shape a sustainable economy, the Gross Domestic Product as the globally accepted indicator of prosperity results in fundamentally wrong actions by governments and businesses. Human wellbeing is about more than satisfying preferences for the consumption of goods and services. It also includes the pursuit and achievement of value-driven purposes. Measuring wellbeing in the 21st century must also take into consideration social implications and environmental sustainability. 

GDP per capita and Rankings 2007 to 2018

In the following table you can read the World Rankings in the area of GDP per capita1. For the years 2007 to 2018, it shows which country was ranked in which position out of 35 countries according to its GDP per capita. The sum is shown to the right of the country name. Move the table to the right to see the results of data analysis for subsequent years. The development of selected countries can be tracked by color assignment.
World Ranking per year201820172016201520142013201220112010200920082007
1Luxembourg $ 107.243Luxembourg $ 106.520Luxembourg $ 107.480Luxembourg $ 107.235Luxembourg $ 105.659Luxembourg $ 103.722Luxembourg $ 102.405Luxembourg $ 105.265Luxembourg $ 104.965Luxembourg $ 101.940Luxembourg $ 108.577Luxembourg $ 111.968
2Norway $   92.121Norway $   91.451Norway $   90.403Norway $   90.132Norway $   89.275Norway $   88.539Norway $   88.689Norway $   87.481Norway $   87.770Norway $   88.260Norway $   90.917Norway $   91.617
3Switzerland $   78.816Switzerland $   77.452Switzerland $   76.934Switzerland $   76.553Switzerland $   76.411Switzerland $   75.500Switzerland $   74.984Switzerland $   75.030Switzerland $   74.606Switzerland $   73.189Switzerland $   75.794Switzerland $   75.144
4Ireland $   76.881Ireland $   71.756Ireland $   67.078Ireland $   65.433Denmark $   59.438Denmark $   58.788Denmark $   58.488Denmark $   58.576Denmark $   58.041Denmark $   57.229Denmark $   60.505Denmark $   61.175
5Denmark $   62.931Denmark $   62.357Denmark $   61.371Denmark $   60.402Australia $   54.706Australia $   54.137Australia $   53.673Sweden $   53.127Sweden $   52.133Australia $   51.767Sweden $   52.773Ireland $   54.708
6Sweden $   57.232Sweden $   56.611Sweden $   56.196Sweden $   55.419Sweden $   53.619Sweden $   52.780Sweden $   52.578Australia $   52.568Australia $   52.022Netherlands $   50.534Netherlands $   52.728Sweden $   53.484
7Australia $   56.919Australia $   56.229Australia $   55.875Australia $   55.184Ireland $   52.775Netherlands $   50.565Netherlands $   50.781Netherlands $   51.500Netherlands $   50.950Sweden $   49.607Australia $   51.841Netherlands $   51.809
8Netherlands $   55.023Netherlands $   53.942Netherlands $   52.727United States $   52.099Netherlands $   51.101United States $   50.161United States $   49.596United States $   48.862Ireland $   48.715Ireland $   48.111Ireland $   51.202Australia $   51.024
9United States $   54.542United States $   53.356United States $   52.534Netherlands $   51.872United States $   51.015Canada $   49.400Canada $   48.788Ireland $   48.670United States $   48.467United States $   47.649Finland $   49.364United States $   49.856
10Iceland $   52.103Iceland $   51.282Canada $   50.264Canada $   50.280Canada $   50.309Ireland $   48.971Ireland $   48.573Canada $   48.467Canada $   47.450Canada $   46.543United States $   49.319Finland $   49.239
11Canada $   51.382Canada $   51.151Iceland $   50.188Austria $   47.850Austria $   47.843Austria $   47.901Austria $   48.172Austria $   48.065Austria $   46.858Austria $   46.123Canada $   48.498Canada $   48.537
12Austria $   50.250Austria $   49.190Austria $   48.301Iceland $   47.405Japan $   46.484Japan $   46.249Finland $   46.278Finland $   47.171Finland $   46.202Finland $   45.066Austria $   48.053Iceland $   47.835
13Japan $   48.920Japan $   48.439Japan $   47.444Japan $   47.103Iceland $   45.853Finland $   45.716Japan $   45.277Belgium $   44.594Japan $   44.508Iceland $   44.492Iceland $   47.889Austria $   47.510
14Finland $   48.445Finland $   47.740Finland $   46.439Germany $   45.521Finland $   45.239Iceland $   45.421Belgium $   44.423Japan $   44.539Belgium $   44.380Belgium $   43.591Japan $   45.166Japan $   45.687
15Germany $   47.502Germany $   46.988Germany $   46.168Finland $   45.316Germany $   45.132Germany $   44.355Germany $   44.259Germany $   44.125Iceland $   43.025Japan $   42.725Belgium $   44.956Belgium $   44.961
16Belgium $   46.683Belgium $   46.211Belgium $   45.599Belgium $   45.174Belgium $   44.660Belgium $   44.302Iceland $   44.032Iceland $   43.701Germany $   41.786Germany $   40.086Germany $   42.365Germany $   41.832
17France $   43.664France $   43.002United Kingdom $   42.202France $   41.765France $   41.478France $   41.283France $   41.258France $   41.329France $   40.638France $   40.059France $   41.456France $   41.583
18United Kingdom $   42.986United Kingdom $   42.670France $   42.055United Kingdom $   41.757United Kingdom $   41.124United Kingdom $   40.249United Kingdom $   39.707United Kingdom $   39.413United Kingdom $   39.080United Kingdom $   38.725United Kingdom $   40.749United Kingdom $   41.214
19New Zealand $   38.000New Zealand $   37.678New Zealand $   37.319New Zealand $   36.770New Zealand $   36.175New Zealand $   35.410Italy $   34.885Italy $   35.994Italy $   35.849Italy $   35.363Italy $   37.585Italy $   38.237
20Italy $   35.392Italy $   35.029Italy $   34.398Italy $   33.959Italy $   33.616Italy $   33.887New Zealand $   34.787New Zealand $   34.217New Zealand $   33.692New Zealand $   33.552New Zealand $   33.962New Zealand $   34.600
21Israel $   34.789Israel $   34.333Israel $   33.840Israel $   33.180Israel $   32.997Israel $   32.374Israel $   31.671Israel $   31.593Spain $   30.737Spain $   30.874Spain $   32.303Spain $   32.460
22Spain $   33.146Spain $   32.403Spain $   31.540Spain $   30.595Spain $   29.496Spain $   29.008Spain $   29.415Spain $   30.322Israel $   30.659Israel $   29.594Israel $   29.961Greece $   30.055
23Portugal $   23.738Portugal $   23.197Greece $   22.666Greece $   22.615Greece $   22.566Greece $   22.251Greece $   22.831Greece $   24.496Greece $   26.918Greece $   28.515Greece $   29.875Israel $   29.646
24Greece $   23.558Greece $   23.053Portugal $   22.512Portugal $   22.017Portugal $   21.533Portugal $   21.228Portugal $   21.353Portugal $   22.159Portugal $   22.539Portugal $   22.129Portugal $   22.830Portugal $   22.817
25Czech Republic $   23.359Czech Republic $   22.755Czech Republic $   21.864Czech Republic $   21.382Czech Republic $   20.344Czech Republic $   19.827Czech Republic $   19.930Czech Republic $   20.119Czech Republic $   19.808Czech Republic $   19.424Czech Republic $   20.521Czech Republic $   20.151
26Poland $   16.640Poland $   15.826Poland $   15.101Chile $   14.722Chile $   14.561Chile $   14.461Chile $   14.036Chile $   13.456Hungary $   13.092Hungary $   12.978Hungary $   13.873Hungary $   13.732
27Hungary $   16.503Hungary $   15.696Hungary $   15.032Hungary $   14.654Hungary $   14.119Poland $   13.633Poland $   13.437Hungary $   13.347Chile $   12.808Chile $   12.227Chile $   12.554Chile $   12.256
28Chile $   15.130Turkey $   14.871Chile $   14.771Poland $   14.646Poland $   14.095Hungary $   13.511Hungary $   13.197Poland $   13.225Poland $   12.600Poland $   12.126Poland $   11.802Poland $   11.322
29Turkey $   15.027Chile $   14.749Turkey $   14.063Turkey $   13.853Turkey $   13.278Turkey $   12.842Turkey $   12.039Turkey $   11.678Brazil $   11.286Brazil $   10.595Russian Federation $   11.088Turkey $   10.640
30Russian Federation $   11.729Russian Federation $   11.470Russian Federation $   11.298Brazil $   11.431Brazil $   11.951Brazil $   11.993Brazil $   11.746Brazil $   11.628Russian Federation $   10.675Russian Federation $   10.220Brazil $   10.711Russian Federation $   10.535
31Brazil $   11.026Brazil $   10.990Brazil $   10.963Russian Federation $   11.282Russian Federation $   11.573Russian Federation $   11.700Russian Federation $   11.518Russian Federation $   11.125Turkey $   10.672Turkey $     9.976Turkey $   10.603Brazil $   10.294
32Mexico $   10.385Mexico $   10.298Mexico $   10.207Mexico $   10.037Mexico $     9.839Mexico $     9.694Mexico $     9.691Mexico $     9.478Mexico $     9.271Mexico $     8.948Mexico $     9.588Mexico $     9.622
33China $     7.755South Africa $     7.483South Africa $     7.483South Africa $     7.557South Africa $     7.583South Africa $     7.564South Africa $     7.500South Africa $     7.455South Africa $     7.329South Africa $     7.217South Africa $     7.432South Africa $     7.299
34South Africa $     7.440China $     7.308China $     6.884China $     6.484China $     6.096China $     5.711China $     5.325China $     4.961China $     4.550China $     4.133China $     3.797China $     3.480
35India $     2.104India $     1.987India $     1.874India $     1.752India $     1.640India $     1.545India $     1.469India $     1.410India $     1.358India $     1.268India $     1.193India $     1.174

Data Source

1 Data from external, international sources were used to take up the already established indexes of economic prosperity and environmental sustainability on the one hand, and to determine the indexes first presented with the Recoupling Dashboard on the other – The indexes of solidarity and empowerment are based on data exclusively provided.

GDP per capita (constant 2010 US$)

GDP per capita is gross domestic product divided by mid-year population. GDP is the sum of gross value added by all resident producers in the economy plus any product taxes and minus any subsidies not included in the value of the products. It is calculated without making deductions for depreciation of fabricated assets or for depletion and degradation of natural resources. Data are in constant 2010 U.S. dollars. Source: World Bank national accounts data, and OECD National Accounts data files.

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Are you interested in more information or in scheduling an interview? Please contact Christine Coester, Head of Communications via e-mail: press@global-solutions-initiative.org. More information on the Recoupling Dashboard can be found in the Recoupling Dashboard press kit.

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