Social Indicators Research

, Volume 102, Issue 3, pp 363–372 | Cite as

If GDP is Not the Answer, What is the Question? The Juncture of Capabilities, Institutions and Measurement in the Stiglitz-Sen-Fitoussi Report

  • Ming-Chang TsaiEmail author


This review essay offers an institutional critique of the Stiglitz-Sen-Fitoussi Report. The notion of human capabilities and functionings advocated by the Report demonstrates an inspirational perspective to monitor human progress in quality of life (QoL). Several measurements the Report suggested remain inadequate. The personal diary techniques have some potential as it possesses strength in recording hedonic activities, but it is relatively weak in revealing eudaimonic experiences. The Report unfortunately mixes up outcome indicators of QoL at individual level and the higher-ordered, social institutions in mapping out causal processes of human wellbeing. Future researchers can contribute by concentrating on clarifying the plausible linkage between institutions and individual wellbeing in broad sense. There is much knowledge to be gained by researchers who ask questions of “how we can change” rather than answer to “what we can measure”


Wellbeing Social indicators Human development Social institutions Capacities theory 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SociologyNational Taipei UniversitySansia District, New Taipei CityTaiwan

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