Gemma Harper and Richard Price: A framework for understanding the social impacts of policy and their effects on wellbeing, April 2011
A capital stocks and flows methodology for measuring and weighing-up the impact on wellbeing and sustainability of policies to improve economic growth, environmental performance and social impacts.
In this paper, Harper and Price develop a conceptual framework for guiding work on understanding the relationships between the social impacts of policies, their effects on a country’s underlying manufactured, human, environmental and social capital, and implications for wellbeing. The approach has been adopted and applied by national authorities in several countries including Switzerland, Singapore and the UK.
Harper and Price paper adopt a ‘capitals approach’ to assess sustainability in terms of whether the stock of assets we pass on to future generations is better or worse that than what is available to us today, an important analytical component of mainstreaming sustainable development. They use a flows and stocks model to set out the relationships between the different forms of capital (human, natural, manufactured and social) and the flows of goods and services which people use and enjoy (market, non-market, social and environmental), and which in turn contribute to overall utility and wellbeing.