Progress

Public policy is intended to lead to better outcomes, but what does ‘better’ mean?

One important dimension is economic growth, but progress is a broader concept. How can policies also deliver these other dimensions of well-being, from public health to fair access to goods and services? What measures are needed to reflect today’s economy and society, from tracking the digital economy and the impact of other new technologies, to understanding the distribution of opportunities? 

The programme includes the following projects:

The Wealth Economy, led by Matthew Agarwala and Dimitri Zenghelis, with Saite Lu, is focused on the vital, but usually unmeasured wealth such as natural assets and social capital that are essential for sustainable societal progress. People care not just about short-term material consumption but also about the range of opportunities and justice for them and their children, as well as the degree to which they are insured against risks of social upheaval, conflict and insecurity.

The Wellbeing, Productivity and Work research project led by Diane Coyle explores the channels linking wellbeing and productivity and the variations across different working scenarios. This is part of a partnership between the University of Cambridge and KPMG on the ‘Future of Work’, aiming to examine the big issues affecting the modern workforce and offer practical, research-backed solutions to employers.

A past project – Many Dimensions of Wellbeing – was a major ESRC/AHRC funded research project in cooperation with the What Works Centre for Wellbeing. It explored how the sources of wellbeing differ among individuals and also different communities or groups, and develop measures of wellbeing that balance the need to represent this diversity while being useful for policy. It was led by Diane Coyle, Matthew Agarwala, Anna Alexandrova and Mark Fabian.

Another earlier – project Practical Wisdom in a Complex World – led by Penny Mealy explored how we can better understand and shape our surrounding socio-economic system towards delivering on human purposes. Inspired by the Aristotelian notion of `practical wisdom’ the project is exploring possibilities for effective and cognitively efficient decision-making in our complex world, including representation systems (e.g. languages, measures, models, stories) for more effective and efficient thinking and communication and coordination mechanisms and alternative modes of social organisation in tackling complex problems.

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