The Social Wealth Index
Measuring the Economic Value of Caring for People & Planet
The Social Wealth Index (SWI), currently being developed by the Center for Partnership Studies is a new, more accurate metric of economic health that documents the enormous economic value of the work of care, its key role in a nation’s human capacity development, and what investments are needed for a better quality of life and a strong economy. When accurately accounted for, care emerges as both a prime mover of economic growth and a reliable indicator of a nation’s current and future social wellbeing and economic vitality.
Current economic thinking is based on outdated, harmful, and potentially suicidal economic models. These old economic models – and GDP and other metrics that reflect and perpetuate them – actually encourage, rather than discourage, destructive activities.
For example, the losses caused by business activities that contribute to climate change, and the resulting fires, floods, and losses of coastal land, are classified as “externalities.” Not only that, these harmful business activities are included under economic “productivity” – and so also are the business profits from mitigating and trying to repair all this damage.
Not surprisingly, as Nobel prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz noted, there is today growing recognition of the urgent need for GDP alternatives. The Social Wealth Index (SWI) meets this need based on a unique approach that differs from other proposed alternative measures.
How the SWI Differs from Other New Metrics
- Unlike most proposed GDP alternatives, the Social Wealth Index (SWI) will measure the enormous return from caring for people and nature, as well as the huge costs of not doing so - not only in human and environmental terms but also in purely economic terms. It will demonstrate the economic value of care work, from childcare and eldercare to healthcare and environmental care, as well as of caring business and government policies.
- A unique feature of the SWI is that it is geared to ensuring economic success in our post-industrial, knowledge-service age.
- The SWI takes into account findings from neuroscience showing that whether or not we have the “high-quality human capital” that economists tell us is the most important capital in our new technological era largely depends on the quality of care and education children receive early on. In addition, the SWI will document the return from good training and pay in the growing field of eldercare.
- The SWI further differs from other metrics in that it not only will measure where we are (outputs) but also what investments (inputs) are needed to develop a healthy and sustainable economy and society.
- The SWI pays attention to the majority of humanity (women and children) and how this affects everyone’s wellbeing, showing that adequately rewarding care work in both the market and household is essential to reduce poverty – starting with the disproportionately high poverty rate among women and children worldwide.
Social Wealth Index Speakers Bureau
Seeking a speaker for your live or online event? CPS offers access to experienced speakers in all areas relating to caring economy and partnership including new metrics, economic transformation to partnership systems, inclusion and diversity, partnerism, and caring economic policy.
Scroll down to learn more about the SWI Speakers Bureau and book a speaker.
Background of the Social Wealth Index
Following the 2007 publication of Riane Eisler’s The Real Wealth of Nations, thanks to a grant from the Kellogg Foundation, in 2014 CPS launched the first iteration of indicators for the SWI: the Social Wealth Economic Indicators (SWEI’s).
The SWEIs were the result of a partnership with the Urban Institute in Washington DC, including the publication of two preliminary reports jointly written by CPS and the Urban Institute: “The State of Society: Measuring Economic Success and Human Well-Being,” which identified 14 categories of new post-GDP indicators, and “National Indicators and Social Wealth.” This second report summarized outcomes from a meeting of leading economists, U.S. government officials, and representatives of NGOs held at the Urban Institute, which made recommendations for Social Wealth Economic Indicators.
This led to the development of Social Wealth Indicators (SWEIs) by MIT-educated economist Indradeep Ghosh, Riane Eisler, and other members of the CPS team. SWEIs are described in the CPS report “Social Wealth Economic Indicators: A New System for Evaluating Economic Prosperity.”
A distinguished online panel, Caring Economy Panel Goes Beyond GDP, moderated by Carol Evans, President of Working Mother Media, announced the release of the SWEIs online.
Members of the panel 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; Dr. W. Steven Barnett, Board of Governors Professor and Director of the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) at Rutgers University; and Eric Norman, Senior Vice President for Human Resources at Cardinal Health, a Fortune 500 Company.
Human Capacity and Care Investment
Like the SWEIs, the Social Wealth Index will consist of two categories, which will be combined to show the return on investment from supporting caring for people and nature. One category will measure a nation’s or state’s Human Capacity or output (now consisting of 16 SWEI subcategories). The second category will measure a nation’s or state’s government and businesses Care Investment or input (now consisting of 8 SWEI subcategories).
These two categories will be re-examined and modified as needed. For example, we may include more on eldercare and the environment, add indicators in Care Investment measuring support for veterans, people with disabilities, and indigenous populations, and add to the Human Capacity measure a separate section on women’s leadership.
Examples of existing Human Capacity Indicators (outputs) include:
- Infant and maternal mortality rates,
- Child poverty rates
- Amount of time spent in caregiving
- Enrollment in child care centers (age 3 to 5)
- Caregiver wages
- Gender equity
- Racial equity
- Teen births
- Incarceration and recidivism rates
- Educational attainment
- Carbon dioxide emissions
- Ecological deficit/reserve
Examples of Care Investment Indicators (inputs) include:
- Public spending on family benefits
- Percentage of GDP for public funding for childcare and early education
- Paid family work leave
- Government investment in long term care
- Employer support for child care
- Extent of employee control over working time
- Investment in environmental protection as a percentage of GDP
- Education versus prison costs
Results and Benefits of the SWI
The more easily accessible and informative Social Wealth Index will offer vital information to both business and government policymakers as well as the public at large. It will provide the new economic perspective needed to adequately plan for human wellbeing, environmental sustainability, and economic prosperity in our post-industrial age.
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 that, not coincidentally, the U.S. has the highest child poverty and infant and maternal mortality rates of any OECD nation.
Unlike other GDP alternatives, which only provide a snapshot of where we are (outputs), Care Investment Indicators (CIIs) provide policymakers with the data they need to ensure better outcomes.
The SWI Index is being developed by a team co-headed by Riane Eisler and John Talberth.
Riane Eisler, President of the Center for Partnership Studies, and recipient of many honors for her pioneering work to advance human rights, economic equity, and peace, is the author of The Real Wealth of Nations: Creating a Caring Economics, which inspired SWEI development. Most recently she co-authored Nurturing Our Humanity: How Domination and Partnership Shape Our Brains, Lives, and Future with anthropologist Douglas Fry (Oxford University Press, 2019).
John Talberth, President of the Center for a Sustainable Economy, helped pioneer popular sustainability metrics like the Genuine Progress Indicator and Ecological Footprint, developed sustainability indices for government agencies including the EPA and Washington State Department of Ecology, and led a major international green economy process at the United Nations during his tenure at World Resources Institute.
The SWI team includes a number of sub-teams composed of leading experts and leaders of allied organizations, ranging from a five person Steering Group and a Management Group to Communications, Funding, Policy, Business and Banking, and Networking groups. There is also an Advisory group composed of experts on particular issues/constituencies, such as Environment, Minorities, Women, Children, Education, etc.
- Develop a SW Index prototype for a number of nations.
- Develop a SW Index for U.S.
- Develop a yearly updating mechanism.
- Lobby governments to adopt the SW Index as a guide for policy making.
- Lobby the United Nations to use the SW index as a guide for policy making.
- Lobby business leaders to persuade national and state governments to use the SW Index, to incentivize. businesses through rewards that promote their interests, such as having high capacity human capital and attracting the attention and loyalty of up and coming generations through alignment of business purpose with caring for people and the environment.
Social Wealth Index Speakers Bureau
Speaker topic areas: social and economic transformation to partnership, cultural history and transformation, economic and social justice, gender equity, and human rights
Riane Eisler’s presentations inform, inspire, and empower. She keynotes national and international conferences and speaks at major corporations, universities, and NGOs. Other venues have ranged from the United Nations General Assembly and the U.S. State Department to invitations by heads of State.
Contact Riane Eisler to speak:
Rosie von Lila
Speaker topic areas: new economic ecosystems and metrics, inclusion and diversity, social and economic transformation to partnership
Rosie von Lila serves as executive board member, and served as Interim CEO, of New America Alliance (NAA). NAA advocates on behalf of Latino and diverse asset managers to have equitable access to capital. Over her nearly 20 years’ experiential research on building participatory business cultures and communities around the world, Rosie authored a framework for stakeholder engagement and building social and business ecosystems. Through her Von Lila Framework for stakeholder engagement, she has been invited to be a guest at the U.S. Pentagon several times and a guest lecturer at the U.S. National Defense University. She is frequently invited to participate in strategic discussions and action groups focused on inclusion, diversity and collaboration.
Rosie lives in New York, where she hosts the live podcast What Comes Now. On the show she interviews leaders who are breaking stereotypes, and who are all people of color.
Rosie is a collaborator with Riane Eisler and the Center for Partnership Studies on the strategic development of the Social Wealth Index which documents the enormous economic value of the work of care, its key role in a nation’s human capacity development, and what investments are needed for a better quality of life, a sustainable environment to support life, and a strong economy.
Speaker topic areas: new economics and metrics, partnerism in non-profit development work, partnerism and blockchain; partnerism and social entrepreneurship
Nyla Rodgers is an activist, futurist, and non-profit leader with a passion for merging social impact with technology. She advocates for greater generosity and partnership between the tech and non-profit worlds as well as for greater altruism and inclusion in the blockchain sector. She is an Advisor to the Center for Partnership Studies supporting the development of the Social Wealth Index and helping launch a new economic model called “Partnerism”.
Nyla founded Mama Hope in 2007, a training program that equips grassroots leaders with the tools to raise funding and build sustainable communities. Mama Hope’s partners have since built schools, health clinics, children’s centers, clean water systems and food security projects that have improved the lives of over 2.6M people throughout Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Ghana, Ethiopia, Guatemala, India and the U.S. She co-produced the Stop The Pity campaign, aimed at shifting the stereotypes of the global poor. Its videos have garnered over 14M views and were featured on CNN and Al Jazeera as well as at the Sundance Festival and SXSW.
In 2015 she was a finalist for the Global Citizen of the Year Award. In 2017 she was honored for her work as a Female Leader in Eileen Fisher’s Fall campaign “Power: In the Words of Women” and was profiled in Forbes under the headline: The Business of Hope: What It Takes and How One Woman Inspired It.
Speaker topic areas: new economics, ecosystems and sustainability metrics, social and economic transformation to partnership, green economy
President of the Center for a Sustainable Economy, John Talberth helped pioneer popular sustainability metrics like the Genuine Progress Indicator and Ecological Footprint, developed sustainability indices for government agencies including the EPA and Washington State Department of Ecology, and led a major international green economy process at the United Nations during his tenure at World Resources Institute.
Resources and Links
- Executive Summary: Social Wealth Economic Indicators: A New System for Evaluating Economic Prosperity.
- Full Report: Social Wealth Economic Indicators: A New System for Evaluating Economic Prosperity.
- Online Panel: Caring Economy Panel Goes Beyond GDP.
- For more resources, see centerforpartnership.org