This book addresses the problems involved in looking beyond gross domestic product (GDP) in order to construct broader welfare indicators and estimate their levels for Spain. Three constraints of GDP are that it does not factor the value of much of households’ productive and leisure activities. Nor does it reflect economic inequalities or take into account the negative externalities associated with economic growth.
Broadening the scope of activities considered valuable poses significant measurement problems, which are aggravated by the advance of digitization. Even so, it is possible to make more general estimates of wellbeing than those provided by GDP by drawing on data on how people use their time.
Estimating wellbeing means assessing consumption from an expanded perspective, incorporating goods and services that are produced in the domestic sphere and affect living conditions. Expanded consumption is almost three times that measured by GDP and also fluctuates less over time. Household production, public services and leisure act as buffers that keep welfare levels more stable than GDP.
The authors analyze these problems with data for Spain for the first two decades of the 21st century, following the recommendations of national accounts and drawing up satellite accounts. The results of this research show that the value of household production and leisure activities far exceeds that of GDP. Further, the mix of household activities has changed as families acquire more and more technological equipment, reducing the time spent on chores while leaving more room for home-based leisure activities. Electrical appliances and other equipment are impacting women’s role in household production, although it is still greater than that of men, limiting their access to paid work and leisure activities.
This publication is aimed at academics and specialists as well as the public interested in the state of the economy and the assessment of wellbeing.