What are Social Wealth Economic Indicators?

Social Wealth Economic Indicators (SWEIs) demonstrate the enormous economic benefits of investing in the work of caring for people and our environment.

Unlike conventional measures such as Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and unlike most GDP alternatives, SWEIs demonstrate the substantial financial return from caring for people and nature – and the enormous costs of not doing so.

SWEIs also differ from other metrics in that they not only measure where we are (outputs) but also what investments (inputs) are needed for a healthy and sustainable economy and society.

Unlike other measures, SWEIs pay attention to the status of half the population (women) and how this affects everyone’s well-being. They are essential for a strong and sustainable economy and to reduce the disproportionate poverty of women worldwide.

SWEIs reveal that the U.S. lags badly behind other developed countries in investing in its human and natural capital provide policy makers with the missing tools to steer us in healthier, more realistic directions.

Resources

Read the Executive Summary
Read the Full Report: Social Wealth Economic Indicators: A New System for Evaluating Economic Prosperity
Download the fact sheet on SWEIs: Capitalism and Care: Can They Be Partners?
Read the article about SWEIs by the MIT-trained economist who headed their development

What the SWEIs Reveal

Where the U.S. Stands in Human Capacity Development Compared to the 36 Other Developed Nations in the OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development)

  • The U.S. child poverty rate is nearly twice the OECD average.
  • The U.S. ranks 30th in maternal mortality rates.
  • U.S. infant mortality is higher than in all major developed nations.
  • The U.S. has lower enrollment rates for young children in early childhood education programs than other developed nations.
  • The U.S. has a higher gender gap in earnings than the OECD average (22%, compared to 17.3% )
  • In the U.S., childcare work is one of the lowest paid occupations; dog walkers earn more than childcare workers.
  • The U.S. teen birth rate is much higher than in other developed nations, (44 births per 1,000 women aged 15-19). Switzerland has the lowest teen birth rate, (4 births per 1,000 teens). Nordic nations have 5-10 births per 1,000 teens.
  • The U.S. is one of only 12 countries with an ecological deficit larger than 4 global hectares per capita. Many other developed nations (and developing nations in Latin America and elsewhere) are 
running ecological reserves.

Where the U.S. Stands in Care Investment

  • The U.S. is the only developed nation with no national funding for paid parental leave.
  • The U.S. invests less than half as much in family benefits as other OECD nations: 1% of GDP compared to the OECD average of 2.6%.
  • The U.S. invests one third as much on environmental protection as the European Union average.
  • Among major developed nations, the U.S. invests the least in early childhood care and education.

 

What is needed for the US to catch up in care investment? Take a look at long-term care, for example...

  • In most developed nations, long-term care (LTC) work is predominately publicly funded. Nordic countries, and the Netherlands, where gender norms have been replaced by more flexible gender roles in which men do more care work, are the highest public spenders at 1.5% of GDP or higher. US, public spending on LTC was just above 0.5% of GDP.
  • Although direct care is the fastest growing job sector in the U.S., it is one of the lowest-paid. The population aged 65+ is projected to grow 90% by 2030, opening thousands of jobs in care work. Currently care workers are paid about $10 an hour. That is $7 per hour LESS than the average wage earner in the country.
  • If we want to create living wage jobs and adequately care for those who need it, we have to revalue care and our investments in it.

Development of the Social Wealth Economic Indicators: Timeline

2007
RIANE EISLER'S THE REAL WEALTH OF NATIONS
In 2007, Dr. Riane Eisler laid the groundwork for a more caring economy with The Real Wealth of Nations. This powerful book shows the urgent need for an economics that supports caring and care giving at the individual, organizational, societal, and environmental levels.

Get the Book

 

2010
REPORT: THE STATE OF SOCIETY: MEASURING ECONOMIC SUCCESS AND HUMAN WELL-BEING (URBAN INSTITUTE AND CPS)
This report by Erwin de Leon and Elizabeth T. Boris identified 14 categories of indicators that together provide a more accurate and complete picture of how a society and its economy are faring.

Read the Full Report

 

2012
WORKSHOP: INDICATORS OF SOCIAL WEALTH
20 national experts met for a two-day workshop at the Urban Institute in Washington DC. Participants examined the strengths and weaknesses of existing indicators to measure social wealth, identified missing indicators that need to be developed, and made recommendations for the development and placement of social wealth economic indicators in the proposed U.S. National Key Indicators System as well as within national and satellite accounts at federal agencies (e.g., the U.S. Department of Commerce) and at the state and local levels.

2012
REPORT: NATIONAL INDICATORS AND SOCIAL WEALTH (URBAN INSTITUTE AND CPS)
This report by the Center for Partnership Studies and the Urban Institute summarized the proceedings of the above workshop, focusing on two key questions: 1) How can national economic success and human well-being be better assessed?; and 2) How can drivers for human capacity development throughout the human life course best be identified? The report recommends “a coordinated effort that can change the way we think about and measure our economy, providing more realistic tools to navigate a very different social, political and economic reality that existed at the birth of the GDP.”

Read the Full Report

 

2013
CONGRESSIONAL BRIEFING
This Caring Economy Campaign Congressional briefing on "The Economic Return from Investing in Care Work and Early Childhood Education,” was attended by Hill staffers, journalists, and advocates. Presentations by Congressman Jim Moran (D-VA) and Dr. Riane Eisler, were followed by a panel moderated by René Redwood featuring Dr. W. Steven Barnett, Director of the National Institute of Early Education Research (NIEER), Dr. Sara Meléndez, and Shireen Mitchell.

2014
REPORT: SOCIAL WEALTH ECONOMIC INDICATORS: A NEW SYSTEM FOR EVALUATING ECONOMIC PROSPERITY
Authored by economist Indradeep Ghosh with Riane Eisler and the CPS Team.

2014
PANEL DISCUSSION
CPS launched the Social Wealth Economic Indicators with an online panel discussion moderated by Carol Evans, President of Working Mother Media. Distinguished panelists included:

  • Dr. Indradeep Ghosh, Associate Professor & Dean (Faculty) at Meghnad Desai Academy of Economics, lead economist on SWEI project.
  • Dr. Gail Christopher, Vice President for Programs and Senior Advisor at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.
  • Ai-jen Poo, Director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA) and Co-director of the Caring Across Generations campaign.
  • Eric Norman, Senior Vice President for Human Resources at Cardinal Health, a Fortune 500 Company.
  • W. Steven Barnett, Board of Governors Professor and Director of the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) at Rutgers University.

 

Watch the SWEIs Online Panel

Read the Executive Summary

Read the Full Report: Social Wealth Economic Indicators: A New System for Evaluating Economic Prosperity

 

2015
FAST FACT SHEETS
CEC developed and posted Fast Fact sheets providing data from its Social Wealth Economic Indicators.

Download Fast Fact Sheets