Economy of Wellbeing

The Economy of Wellbeing is a policy orientation and governance approach which enables us to achieve a better balance between the social, economic and ecological dimensions of sustainable development. The economy of wellbeing puts people and their wellbeing at the centre of policy and decision-making. People’s wellbeing is a value in itself. The approach underlines the mutually reinforcing nature of wellbeing and economic growth. Taking wellbeing into account in all policies is vitally important for economic growth, productivity, long-term fiscal sustainability and societal stability.

The OECD has defined the economy of wellbeing in terms of material factors, such as housing, income and jobs, and factors related to quality of life such as education, skills, health and security.

In order to realise these factors, we need social, economic and ecological sustainability. The economy of wellbeing analyses 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 secure 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 aim is that wellbeing is distributed evenly to all. A society that makes long-term investments in wellbeing develops and does well economically. The economy of wellbeing helps to increase vitality and curb the rise in healthcare and social welfare costs, for example. 

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 as it puts people’s wellbeing at the heart of decision-making. Decisions are made through 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 economic growth takes place in a sustainable manner from the perspective of future generations. For this reason, we need to adopt 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 at national, regional and local levels, as part of civil society and in the private sector. Making people’s sustainable wellbeing the goal guides growth in economic prosperity and stability, and vice versa; economic growth and stability enable sustainable wellbeing.

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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