Yes, the economy can be positive!

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Yes, the economy can be positive!

Date: 13 September 2016 | 5:50 pm

In these changing times—precarious times—inducing a philosophy of immediacy and futility, the consideration of the long term and its measurement on the part of governmental decision makers is ripe with lessons to be learned. First, because it is a vital precondition for our survival. Second, because assessing a behavior is the key to its objective knowledge. Consequently, the ranking based on positivity index among 35 OECD countries, that is to say on the basis of their interest in future generations, published by Positive Planet Foundation today (over which I preside) is indicative of the strategies of these countries. This index, calculated for the fourth consecutive year, includes 40 data elements measuring various dimensions of the commitment that a country gives to future generations, education, youth unemployment, health, family policy, the participation of women in public life, space availability for children in the homes, public debt, investment, environment, pollution, the proliferation of social inequality, social mobility, democracy, the fight against corruption, press freedom, trust, tolerance, and many other elements —laid down by Official Institutes.

The results of analysis show that most countries who achieved a high rate of positivity, were more resilient to the crisis in 2008, in living standards, employment as well as democratic governance.

And this is confirmed in the country rankings. As always, the top four countries are Northern European countries (Norway, Sweden, Iceland, Netherlands): they know better than any other country the importance of giving priority to education, supporting long-term investment, controlling debt, preserving the environment, giving women the best possible status , achieving the ultimate expression of democracy and the greatest social mobility. As always, ranking amongst the last countries in terms of positivity are southern European countries (and Japan), with the lowest score particularly for Greece, Turkey, Hungary, and Italy: these countries neglect their children, their environment, their public finances and their democracy.

France drops to 18th place, in the middle of the grid, and remains behind Germany (11th) and the United States (14th), side by side with Spain (19th). This can be explained by some key dimensions essential for progress (the trend decline of youth not in employment or training, the updating of infrastructure, voter participation) and a slight improvement of the score obtained with the NGO Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index (ICP), but, above all, because of retrograde steps on areas of strategic importance: education, social mobility, the environment, long-term investment and public debt. As for Germany, it is moving forward despite its weak demographic trends, because public finances are under control and the country’s ability to absorb foreigners.

Certainly, one could dream that these indicators would serve as a point of reference for the next presidential election. For debate daily, in order to understand and take action. If that were the case, we would conclude that nothing is more important than the kindergarten, control of public expenses , social justice, local democracy and the protection of nature. Each candidate should be asked: How do take into account the interests of future generations? What makes you interested in what the country will be 20 years from now? How will the positivity index of France be improved by your program? Of course, they would need to have one`…

j@attali.com

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