The New Social Wealth Index: Investing in the Care of People and Planet

Riane Eisler giving a keynote address at the 2019 Bretton Woods global economic conference.

November 25, 2019

During the July, 2019 Bretton Woods 75 Conference, a team led by Riane Eisler and the Center for Partnership Studies formed for the purpose of developing a new economic Social Wealth Index (SWI) for use by nations and U.S. States to guide enactment of policies that promote optimal human development and protect our natural environment, as well as ensuring business and economic health.

The Social Wealth Index
Unlike both GDP and most GDP alternatives, the new SWI takes into account findings from neuroscience showing that whether we have the “high quality human capital” economists tell us is the most important capital in this new technological era —that is, resilient, flexible people, capable of learning, working with others, and adapting to rapid environmental, social, and technological change — largely hinges on the quality of care and education children receive early on.

Unlike other measures, the Social Wealth Index (SWI) will demonstrate the massive economic return from caring for people and nature, as well as the enormous costs of not doing so— not only in human and environmental terms, but also in purely financial terms.

Like the Social Wealth Economic Indicators developed by CPS in 2014, the SWI will consist of two categories: Human Capacity Indicators (the outputs) and Care Investment Indicators (the inputs).

Examples of Human Capacity Indicators are:

  • Infant and maternal mortality rates
  • Caregiver wages
  • Gender equity
  • Racial equity
  • Ecological deficit/reserve

Examples of Care Investment Indicators are:

  • Public spending on family benefits
  • Percentage of GDP for public funding for childcare and early education
  • Government investment in long term care
  • Investment in environmental protection as a percentage of GDP
  • Education versus prison costs

The relationship between inputs (Care Investment) and outputs (Human Capacity) will provide currently lacking information needed for sound legislative decisions. For example, the existing SWEIs reveal that the U.S. lags far behind other developed countries in investing in its human and natural capital, and as a corollary, has the highest child poverty and infant and maternal mortality rates of any OECD nation.

The SWI data will demonstrate the significant economic benefits of investing in the work of caring for people, starting in early childhood, and caring for our natural environment – work ignored or devalued in present metrics and policies, even though it is vital if humanity is to survive and thrive.

In Dr. Eisler’s Bretton Woods keynote presentation, “What’s Next? Beyond Capitalism and Socialism” she offers a 4-step framework for building a more caring and just economy rooted in a culture of partnership systems.

Read the Social Wealth Economic Indicators Executive Summary, by Indradeep Ghosh



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