Professor Diane Coyle on rethinking public policy

"I want this planet to have a sustainable future. It matters that every year, we fail to take account of at least one hundred trillion dollars’ worth of vital assets."

Professor Diane Coyle on rethinking public policy

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Our society has changed so much in the past two decades, yet the way we measure whether or not there is real progress hasn’t really changed in almost a century.

I want this planet to have a sustainable future. As an economist, I believe careful measurement of our activities helps ensure we can steward resources properly. That’s why it matters that every year, we fail to take account of at least one hundred trillion dollars’ worth of vital assets.

That one hundred trillion dollars is a conservative estimate of the value nature provides to the economy, yet we undervalue something so fundamental to our lives. We wouldn’t have houses without wood, food without land, or cell-phones without minerals, but these building blocks of prosperity aren’t included on national balance sheets. We can’t live without clean air or biodiversity — but we do not properly calculate their worth. 

We take recent remarkable advances in technology for granted. 

  • Professor Diane Coyle standing on a stage speaking
    Professor Diane Coyle

In our workplaces, and in our daily lives, we spend hours online. There is no monetary price tag on online search. We stay in touch with our friends and families for free. We can shop without leaving the comfort of our living rooms, watch videos and listen to music from anywhere. One study suggested that the typical American would need at least $17,000 a year to compensate for not having access to these digital services.

Professor Diane Coyle

At the Bennett Institute for Public Policy, we are asking about the true worth of myriad the assets and services, tangible and intangible, which contribute to our economy. These questions matter because people need to know the value of what we have in order to use it well, and sustainably.

We’re rethinking public policy and leaving behind traditional ways of calculating value, to make economics count for the 21st century and beyond.

Diane Coyle is the Bennett Professor of Public Policy. The Bennett Professorship and the Bennett Institute have been generously supported by Cambridge alumnus Peter Bennett (Churchill 1975)

To learn more about how to support the Bennett Institute for Public Policy please contact:

The Bennett Institute for Public Policy

At the Bennett Institute for Public Policy, we are asking about the true worth of myriad the assets and services, tangible and intangible, which contribute to our economy. These questions matter because people need to know the value of what we have in order to use it well, and sustainably.

We’re rethinking public policy and leaving behind traditional ways of calculating value, to make economics count for the 21st century and beyond.

Diane Coyle is the Bennett Professor of Public Policy. The Bennett Professorship and the Bennett Institute have been generously supported by Cambridge alumnus Peter Bennett (Churchill 1975)

To learn more about how to support the Bennett Institute for Public Policy please contact:

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