The current economic system (the “old way”) responds to the common needs of humanity and the planet in ways that do not address the heart of problems and do not make life better for all. In fact, often problems are made worse or at best responses act as ‘sticking plasters’.
In a wellbeing economy (the “new way”), responses would be person-centred, geared towards environmental protection and regeneration, positive and long-term. The exciting thing is – the new way is already emerging, with inspiring examples around the world showing us the way.
This table sets out indicative wellbeing economy responses to some of the major issue areas that decision makers deal with, and that affect all of our lives. There is inevitable overlap across issue areas, so some repetition in the table.
It’s a work in progress and open to further contributions – please use the form at the bottom of this page to submit your suggestions. Thanks for the great ideas that have been submitted so far, most of these have now been brought into the table – so it is truly co-created!
Since launching the page in May 2019 we’ve been overwhelmed by the volume and quality of input. Submissions are now collated, and the page is updated on a monthly basis.
|Issue area||OLD WAY: Current system response(s)||NEW WAY: Indicative Wellbeing Economy response(s)|
|Common good resources||The commons plundered by individual companies and people without comparable contribution to public revenues|
Technological developments and intellectual property exploited by private owners without comparable recognition of the public investment in R&D that underpinned them
|Use of the commons and benefits from technology contribute to citizens wealth fund|
Collective, deliberative management of the commons
The natural environment is valued and respected as core shared resource
|Climate crisis and communities||Carbon capture and storage and emergency responses to ‘natural’ weather-related disasters|
Low income communities most affected by climate crisis and bear most of the costs
Communities expected to increase their resilience
|Circular economy principles in manufacturing and resource use|
Community-based renewable energy generation
Climate crisis mitigated
Climate justice to ensure the burden of adaptation and mitigation is shouldered by those most responsible
|Community empowerment||Empowerment agenda without the powerful giving up or sharing power|
Thin representation even when democratic systems are in place
Attention paid to different styles of communication
Agendas set by communities, not just consultation on the details
Rich and robust democracy with meaningful representation, beyond party politics
|Economics education||Curricula confined to neo-classical approaches and narrow focus on theory and models||Pluralistic and heterodox curricula on offer|
Dynamic macro modelling and systems perspective
Real world context to the fore
|Finance, including investments and access to capital||Short term profit extracted to owners of capital as opposed to fair returns for workers and suppliers|
‘Financial innovation’ confined to debt-based products
|Finance directed to activities with high social and environmental benefits|
Long term ‘investment as commitment’
System change funds
|Food system||Prices ignore environmental costs of production (including transport costs) and do not pay living wages to suppliers|
Unhealthy addictive food cheaper than healthy food
Small-hold producers are price takers at the beck and call of large agricultural complexes
Locally grown, regenerative and cruelty free
Fair value share throughout supply chain
Plant-based diets more common place
|Fossil fuels||Exhaustion of remaining fossil fuel reserves seen as viable|
No planning for livelihoods of workers in brown fields beyond fossil fuels, leaving communities economically stranded
|Tangible pathways of training, enterprise creation, income support for brown field workers|
Relevant skills directed to circular economy and renewable energy
|Homes and housing||Rationed by price, uninsulated and energy inefficient, used as investment devices by rentiers||Co-housing|
Publicly and community-owned mixed with privately owned
|Intergenerational Justice||Young people engaged because they are the ‘future’ on pre-determined agendas|
Young people’s knowledge not recognised as valid or counting as much as older experts
Lack of intergenerational engagement
|Young people sincerely and authentically engaged because they are the ‘now’|
Benefit of experience of elders is recognised and cherished
Generations work together to address problems and develop the economy
Intergenerational justice is a factor in decision making processes
|In-work poverty and earnings inequality||In-work tax credits from the state to top up inadequate wages|
Large gaps between highest paid and lowest paid
Compensation committees decide remuneration rates – vested interests dominate
|Workers owning the business so have a guaranteed share of the value created by their work|
Wages determined by (or better reflect) social value
Low ratio between highest and lowest paid
|Justice and Defence||Burgeoning ‘guard economy’|
Access to justice dependent on ability to pay hence unequal and contingent on financial resources
Law of the market dominates, including through private ownership of prisons geared to deliver shareholder value
Defence sector has disproportionate expenditure, is dominated by spending power and can make use of economic conscription
|Justice seen as basic right of citizenship e.g. equality of access to defence/prosecution lawyers, perhaps paid or subsidised by taxes.|
Wellbeing of people is at the centre of the justice system and decision making
Restorative, community-based solutions financed
Justice system to enable the general population to feel safe, to be fair and to facilitate a flourishing community. It attends to “the causes of the causes” of criminal behaviour.
Defense resources budget is consistent with the Article 26 of the UN Charter which demands disarmament and reduced military expenditures as a precondition for increased security, development, and peace.
|Kindness and compassion||Dismissed as unimportant or even non-existent due to prevailing belief in rational economic man||Recognised as a fundamental aspect of being human and nurtured through the nature of work, design of public spaces, the nature of advertising and education, and narratives about human motivations|
|Materials cycle||Linear: take, make, use, waste|
Prices unrelated to environmental costs
Extended producer responsibility
Prices of inputs and production reflect true and full cost, including environmental impacts
Local artisans delivering repair and remanufacture
‘Right to repair’ incorporated products from the initial design stage
|Mental health||Medicalisation and emphasis on the individual to be more resilient|
Monetisation of our attention by corporate media complex, building and preying on vulnerabilities
|People enabled to thrive with their basic human needs (including autonomy and relatedness) met|
Relationship to nature understood and valued
Fundamental needs are met within society
|Mental health in the workplace||Reliance on individualised coping strategies without attending to the nature of work and causes of stress|
Employees treated as ‘on-demand’ and disposable inputs and a cost to be minimised
Dominant culture of hierarchy and overwork
|Healthier relationship with work: jobs designed to deliver autonomy, control and relatedness; sense of purpose; and sufficient and secure source of income and hours|
Jobs designed with task rotation, ability to see a process through, reward reflecting effort
|Mindsets||The dominant mindset is that there is no alternative to neoliberal capitalism and business as usual||The dominant mindset is that thousands of alternatives for designing economies exist – it is in our power to design economies differently. Economies should have human and environmental wellbeing as their focus|
Innovation is the norm
|Natural capital accounting||Ecosystem services ignored in corporate account keeping||Use of ecosystem services appropriately counted (may not require assigning a monetary figure)|
Recognition of the inherent value of nature, beyond the services it provides to human beings
|Pharmaceuticals||Monopolised by large corporations, making significant profits|
Insufficient regard for public spending that makes research and subsequent commercial success possible
Access to medicine often based on ability to pay
Patents can restrict access to medications for large numbers of people
Medicalised, downstream treatment orientation
|Profits of pharma companies socialised via windfall tax, or distributed in a way that recognises the substantial public sector research and development on which sector depends|
Patents scrutinised and not acting as a block to entry or denying healthcare
Access to medication is not based on geography or ability to pay
Causes of ill-health dealt with upstream, and reduced through healthier natural environments
|Pollution||Costs passed onto third parties|
Clean up rather than prevention
|Polluting the commons charged at true prices so that producer pays|
Caps on emissions set according to science
|Productivity||Seen as key to economic growth|
Results in pressure on workers to increase pace of work rather than supporting care, quality or craftmanship
No heed paid to influence of power within an organisation and how this shapes distribution of value share nor if more production is itself sustainable
|Resource productivity is a key consideration, rather than labour productivity|
Recognition that in some sectors (such as arts and care) labour productivity might lead to sub-optimal outcomes
|Purpose of the economy||Boils down to increasing per capita GDP||Holistic measures of progress that encompass human and ecological wellbeing, including of future generations|
Co-creation of these measures through wide public consultation
|Retail||Excessive focus on economies of scale|
Process orientated, the only service is designed to secure the transaction
Focus on quality of craftsmanship
Human centric processes with connection and engagement over data collection
Designed to add value
|Social care for elderly||Delivered by expensive, high intervention hospitals|
Out of hospital provision outsourced on the basis of lowest price delivery
|Community provision with sufficient resourcing to ensure quality service|
Delivered by well-paid professionals whose salary reflects the social value of the role or by families who have time to undertake this aspect of the core economy (because of shorter working weeks)
Includes time in nature
|Work||Acute specialization and atomization|
Workers treated as ’just in time inventory’ and a cost to be reduced
Extremes of overwork, underwork, unemployment and underemployment
Jobs designed to meet fundamental needs
Tasks shared, autonomy devolved, scope to follow through
Workers treated as human beings
Work shared to allow more economic equality and working time reduced to allow other activities in employee’s lives
Renumeration reflects social value (not just what ‘Compensation Committees’ decide) and employees receive a decent share of the value they create
There is meaningful, appropriate, sufficient work for everyone who wants it
Person-centred economic development and investment strategies
|Education and Knowledge||Access is often commercialised and follows ability to pay.|
Knowledge is created in systems that are reductionist. “Need to know” basis.
|Public education is high quality, teaching and emphasising skills for relating and collaborating.|
Higher education is affordable or free.
Access to knowledge is holistic and democratic. “Need to share” default.
|Space and infrastructure||Spaces are designed for private interests and with private vehicle needs prioritised.|
Public space often commercialised.
Linear and top-down/elite planning processes.
|Spaces are designed for community and connections.|
Green space is prioritised and flourishing of nature is built into design.
Decentralised, participatory planning processes.
|Taxation||Taxation is usually just an arbitrary levy placed on activities that we actually would like to encourage – like honest useful work (PAYE) and trade (VAT) investment in green energy (business rates) which effectually discourages them particularly for small businesses||Tax things we want to discourage such as excessive use of non-renewable natural resources, poor use of land (including hoarding of it), monopoly rents and don’t tax things we want to encourage|
|Health||The health system treats ill health rather than sufficiently promoting good health.|
Emphasis is on treatment and acute responses rather than prevention.
Delivery of health services too often subordinate to short term profit agendas.
|Emphasis is on prevention and in particular attention is paid to addressing “the causes of the causes” of ill health.|
Access to health services is recognised as a basic right and is free at the point of delivery.
Delivery of health services is driven by values and outcomes.