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High-level Conference on the Economy of Wellbeing: People’s wellbeing and economic growth must be discussed at the same table

EU2019FIMinistry of Social Affairs and Health
18.9.2019 14.36
Press release 93/2019

Finland’s Presidency of the Council of the European Union wants to improve the understanding of EU decision-makers that wellbeing policy and economic policy should go hand in hand. This theme will be discussed by European ministers, experts and influencers at the High-Level Conference on the Economy of Wellbeing in Helsinki on 18 and 19 September.

The Council is now preparing conclusions on the economy of wellbeing under the leadership of Finland. They are to be adopted at the meeting of the EU ministers for social affairs and employment in October. The Council conclusions will include recommendations for measures by EU member states and the Commission. The discussions at the conference will provide a basis for preparing the conclusions and summarise messages for the work programme of the incoming European Commission.

“The economy of wellbeing approach means that a virtuous circle of policies is created where wellbeing and economic growth reinforce each other and profit both people and society as a whole. People’s wellbeing is one of the corner stones of the EU. That is why the economy of wellbeing approach is ideally suited for future EU programmes,” says Minister of Social Affairs and Health Aino-Kaisa Pekonen.

The Council conclusions will create a basis for further work on the economy of wellbeing. They will contain concrete proposals for social, employment, health, education and gender equality policies.

Research supports the economy of wellbeing approach

There is a solid evidence base for the economy of wellbeing approach.

“The International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the OECD have concluded that you cannot have a healthy economy without looking after people’s wellbeing. Preventing diseases, maintaining ability to work, promoting gender equality and ensuring opportunities for continuous learning are examples of measures that boost economic growth,” says Director-General Veli-Mikko Niemi.

In a background paper, commissioned by Finland, the OECD argues that expanding opportunities for access to high quality education and healthcare and promoting inclusive social protection systems, in particular, are shown to be powerful levers for activating the virtuous circle that characterises the economy of wellbeing. Moreover, in order to bear their full returns, these investments in education, healthcare and social protection need to translate into improved wellbeing outcomes for all segments of the population. The importance of gender equality is also highlighted. Investments should be reprioritised to take account of the links between wellbeing and long-term economic growth, according to the OECD background paper.

What is the economy of wellbeing?

There is a two-way relationship between people’s wellbeing and economic growth. The wellbeing of people is a prerequisite for both economic growth and the stability of society and the economy. Economic growth also creates more opportunities to improve the wellbeing of all citizens. The economy of wellbeing approach aims to ensure everyone’s inclusion and equal opportunities for all.

The economy of wellbeing means that public funds are invested to improve people’s wellbeing. As a result, people are healthier and they work and pay taxes. When people are healthy and well, they need fewer health and social services. This is crucial for national economies, with populations ageing all over Europe, including in Finland.

The High-Level Conference on the Economy of Wellbeing is one of the main events organised by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health during Finland’s Presidency.


Veli-Mikko Niemi, Director-General, tel. +358 46 9210285
Media service number of the Communications Unit of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health during Finland’s Presidency, tel. +358 50 523 6797 (requests for interviews)

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