Social Indicators Research

, Volume 126, Issue 1, pp 21–55 | Cite as

Beyond GDP: Using Equivalent Incomes to Measure Well-Being in Europe

  • Koen DecancqEmail author
  • Erik Schokkaert


It has become widely accepted that focusing exclusively on income growth may lead to a too narrow-sighted measure of changes in well-being. People care about other dimensions of life, such as their health, employment, social interactions and personal safety. Moreover, an exclusive focus on income growth remains blind to the distribution of income and well-being in the society. We propose therefore a set of five principles for a richer measure of well-being. In particular, we advocate the use of a measure based on “equivalent incomes”, which satisfies these principles. We discuss and illustrate how this equivalent income approach can be implemented in Europe, using the ESS data for 2008 and 2010. We find that introducing inequality aversion and including other dimensions in the analysis leads to a remarkably different perspective on the growth of well-being in Europe.


Equivalent incomes Preferences Growth in well-being Europe 



We gratefully acknowledge financial support from Belspo for the MEQIN project. We thank an anonymous referee, Romina Boarini, Marleen De Smedt, Marc Fleurbaey, Frank Vandenbroucke and seminar participants in Brussels, Cali, Frankfurt, Ispra, Leuven, London, Paris, Rome, and Stirling for useful comments.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Herman Deleeck Centre for Social PolicyUniversity of AntwerpAntwerpBelgium
  2. 2.COREUniversité catholique de LouvainLouvain-La-NeuveBelgium
  3. 3.Department of EconomicsKU LeuvenLeuvenBelgium

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