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Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Research Notes: Measuring economic well-being

New measures of economic well-being for rural Vermont
Marta Ceroni, University of Vermont

The socioeconomic well-being of Vermont and the Northern Forest depends on the economic vitality of its communities as well as its natural resource wealth, social interactions, health and knowledge. Yet, classical measures of progress, such as the Gross Domestic Product, are based solely on economic growth, failing to measure what really matters to people. We used the Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI) to investigate the socioeconomic trends of six rural counties of Northern Vermont from 1950-2000 in a way that genuinely reflects the multiple dimensions of quality of life for the region and its communities. GPI in the most rural counties (Caledonia, Essex, Orleans) was below the U.S. average in 1950 but had risen above the national average by 2000. Rural counties had consistently lower crime rates, generated less solid waste, had less air, water, and noise pollution, and less loss of forest cover and wetlands but higher costs of underemployment. Such estimates can provide useful interregional comparisons of socioeconomic well-being.

For more information on this research see International Journal of Environment, Workplace and Employment, Vol. 3, No.2, pp. 132 - 153, 2007.

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