The Perils of Measuring Progress: A View from Within

By Riccardo Natoli and Segu Zuhair.

Published by The Social Sciences Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Measurements of progress serve as a crucial link between the economy and the nation’s policy establishment. This is reinforced by the raison d’etre of economics: the efficient allocation of resources. Hence, accurate measurements of progress can serve as a basis for decisions to improve resource allocation. It then follows that efficient and effective allocation of resources can be best achieved if progress is measured accurately. Yet the term progress is not without its caveat; the conceptualisation of progress is fraught with difficulties, misconceptions and contradictions. For instance, how does one reconcile the fact that an indicator, which shows excessive levels of carbon dioxide emissions, can be construed as detracting from progress (harmful to both humans and the environment), yet low levels may also indicate a lack of progress? The main purpose of the current paper is to highlight these anomalies, and then to propose an improved conceptual framework with which to capture a nation’s progress. In particular, this paper is an inquiry into the multiple and different dimensions of progress. In doing so, it proposes a comprehensive approach that integrates resources and capabilities, social and institutional arrangements, and environmental systems.

Keywords: Economic Progress, Measurement

The International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, Volume 2, Issue 1, pp.281-288. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 525.226KB).

Riccardo Natoli

Doctoral Candidate, Victoria University, Melbourne, Australia

Dr. Segu Zuhair

Senior Lecturer, School of Applied Econmics, Victoria University, Australia


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