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Measuring Progress
Initiatives and Grants

Professor William Nordhaus awarded 2018 Nobel in Economics

Professor William Nordhaus has received the highest recognition and honor for his work to develop a model of how climate change impacts the global economy. For decades Nordhaus has worked on broad issues related to economic growth, showing that traditional measurements of growth understated improvements in the quality of life. The Nobel committee cited Professor Nordhaus for showing "the most efficient remedy for problems caused by greenhouse gases is a global scheme of universally imposed carbon taxes." Over the past decade Glaser Progress Foundation has contributed over $2.7 million to Professor Nordhaus' work.

Program on Nonmarket Accounts

As the centerpiece of a vast and elaborate accounting system, our country's National Income and Product Accounts (NIPA) represent one of the most important ways we track our nation's economy. These accounts are used by government and business to judge our nation's economic performance over time, to compare the economies of different nations, to measure the nation's saving and investment and to track the business cycle. The most well-known account is the GDP.

But the NIPA measure only market activity — goods and services bought and sold in market transactions — which distorts the measurement of environmental health and social well-being. Divorce, disease, pollution and crime make the country appear better off because they drive the GDP up through increased market activity. Conversely, many valuable services and goods such as recreation and leisure activities, volunteer work, household labor and parental child care and investments in human capital generate little or no market activity so they are excluded from the GDP.

In order to improve and modernize our national accounting system, The Glaser Progress Foundation and Yale economist William Nordhaus developed a ten-year program aimed at building a comprehensive set of nonmarket satellite accounts for the United States. The Program on Nonmarket Accounts (PNA) helped create environmental nonmarket accounts in the areas of forestry and pollution, developed a blueprint for constructing a set of social nonmarket accounts and developed better population time-use data for the United States. The Glaser Progress Foundation has contributed over $2.7 million to this program initiative.

Sightline Institute. The Glaser Progress Foundation awarded Sightline Institute a two-year $100,000 grant to support the development of a regional sustainability index for the Pacific Northwest. Sightline Institute recruited a panel of leading experts to help design, measure, and annually update a handful of compelling and scientifically rigorous sustainability indicators. Using these indicators, Sightline Institute constructed and regularly reports on a composite index of regional sustainability, the Sightline Institute Index. This index gives the media, leaders, and the public an alternative to conventional economic measures such as the GDP for tracking the region's progress.

The Progress Project: Rethinking Progress and Human Development. The Glaser Progress Foundation in partnership with the University of Washington Daniel J. Evans School of Public Affairs examined the concept of progress and its relationship to public decision making from a variety of perspectives. The centerpiece of the project was a lecture series featuring Jane Goodall, Doris Kearns Goodwin, Paul Hawken, Vandana Shiva, Ralph Nader, Jimmy Carter, George Mitchell, Doug Engelbart, Amory Lovins, Robert Kuttner and others.

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