If ‘Well-Being’ is the Key Concept in Political Economy…

Claudio Gnesutta


If ‘well-being’ is to be the key concept in political economy, then economists are placed, from a methodological viewpoint, in an uncomfortable position. A well-being approach requires consideration of several non-economic dimensions strongly interrelated with the economic process, and failure to consider them means that the subsequent economic analysis cannot be based on steadily defined categories and, therefore, economists cannot value the full implications of their policy prescriptions. In this note, I show how an interrelated economic-social scheme able to analyse (sustainable) well-being calls for a broadening of the range of social factors interacting (in short and long term) with the market equilibria, and that this entails both new analytical categories and a new socio-economic relations model; in the absence of this apparatus, the effects of economic policies on society are not reliable and, therefore, ought to be systematically subject to a ‘precaution principle’.

Published on 30 Sep 2014 in Economic Thought Vol 3, No 2, 2014