Economy of Wellbeing

The economy of wellbeing is a decision-making approach which enables us to achieve a better balance between the social, economic and ecological dimensions of sustainable development. It creates opportunities to increase wellbeing and support a sustainable economy at the same time. The OECD has defined the economy of wellbeing in terms of material factors, such as housing, income and jobs, and factors related to the quality of life, such as education, competence, health and safety. 

In order for the material factors and the factors related to the quality of life to be realised, we need social, economic and ecological sustainability. The economy of wellbeing supports the examination of the interdependencies between these dimensions of sustainability. The UN Sustainable Development Goals aim to secure a globally, regionally and locally ongoing process of continuous and targeted change in society to ensure a good life for the current and future generations. As an approach, the economy of wellbeing is an investment in future generations. 

Social sustainability is realised when everyone is guaranteed a sufficient income, sufficient wellbeing services and safety, when everyone has fair and just access to resources and opportunities and when individuals are able to influence their own lives. Other preconditions for social sustainability are inclusion, gender equality, a sense of community and engagement in society. 

The goal is that wellbeing is distributed evenly to all. A society that makes long-term investments in wellbeing develops and its economy is on a sustainable footing. It is also able to curb the rise in healthcare and social welfare costs, for example. The economy of wellbeing helps, among other things, increase vitality and curb the rise in healthcare and social welfare costs. 

People’s wellbeing at the heart of policy and decision-making

Inequalities in wellbeing and health, population ageing, technological transformation and climate change increase the need for the economy of wellbeing approach in decision-making. The economy of wellbeing puts people’s wellbeing at the heart of decision-making. Decisions are made by identifying the combined impact of economic and ecological factors on wellbeing. 

We need new decision-making models and indicators to implement the economy of wellbeing. A high GDP (gross domestic product) does not capture whether economic wellbeing is distributed evenly, whether people are satisfied with their lives or whether the economy is on a sustainable footing from the perspective of future generations. For this reason, we need to gain an understanding of the social, economic and ecological dimensions of sustainability and their reciprocity. The economy of wellbeing approach is realised as part of knowledge-based decision-making in national, regional and local decision-making, as part of civil society and in the private sector. 

Further information

Riikka Pellikka, Senior Specialist 
Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, Management Support Unit / JOT, Strategy Group / STRA 0295163659  


Heli Hätönen, Ministerial Adviser 
Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, Department for Communities and Functional Capacity / YTO, Functional Capacity Unit / TOK 0295163326  


Satu Leino, Ministerial Adviser 
Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, International Affairs Unit (KVY) 0295163498