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Nations With Differing Economic Environments Have Found Ways to Improve the Well-Being of Their Citizens

The Boston Consulting Group's 2014 Sustainable Economic Development Assessment (SEDA) Shows That Countries Across the Economic Growth Spectrum Can Deliver Above-Average Gains in Well-Being

BOSTON, MA -- (Marketwired) -- 02/10/14 -- Countries at all levels of economic growth have managed to produce outsized improvements in the well-being of their citizens, according to a new report by The Boston Consulting Group (BCG). The report, titled Building Well-Being into National Strategies: The 2014 Sustainable Economic Development Assessment, is being released today.

The report presents the latest findings of BCG's newly refined Sustainable Economic Development Assessment, a diagnostic tool for evaluating current levels of well-being as well as gains in well-being over the most recent five years for which data are available. It assesses 149 countries across SEDA's ten dimensions of well-being -- including income, civil society, education, health, and the environment. And it examines a growing trend among governments: taking steps to fully integrate the goal of improving well-being into the development of national strategies.

"Since launching SEDA in 2012, we have used it in our work with governments in more than two dozen countries on six continents in order to help them assess the relative well-being of their people -- and to identify areas in which they have the best opportunities to really move the needle in terms of boosting their citizens' standard of living," says Douglas Beal, a BCG partner and coauthor of the report. "This report underscores the fact that even low economic growth does not necessarily limit a country's success in such efforts."

It Is Possible to Improve Well-Being Even in Low-Growth Environments

To understand the link between recent economic growth and improvement in well-being, the report examines countries across the spectrum of GDP growth between 2007 and 2012. Mexico, for example, produced improvements in well-being above what would be expected given the country's relatively slow economic growth. Similarly Turkey, with moderate economic growth, generated gains in well-being above the average for countries with a similar growth trajectory. Meanwhile, China's gains in well-being kept pace with its rapid economic growth. This marked progress for China; BCG's initial (2012) SEDA report, found China's gains in well-being to be below average for countries experiencing similar rates of economic growth.

While there is no simple formula for producing gains in well-being, the report reveals patterns of success among countries with varying growth levels. High-growth countries with above-average records in converting growth into improved well-being, for example, achieved this goal primarily through improvements in infrastructure and health. Low-growth countries with strong records in translating growth into improved well-being often accomplished this result through improvements in the environment and civil society.

National Strategies Increasingly Focus on Well-Being

The report also focuses on a key trend in the public sector: a more explicit emphasis on well-being in policy discussions with growing integration of well-being into the creation of national strategies. For some countries -- Norway and Bhutan, for instance -- well-being has long been a key consideration. For others -- including Malaysia and the U.K. -- moves are under way to integrate well-being measures into the drafting and implementation of government policy.

"It is not enough to simply study or discuss well-being," says BCG senior advisor and coauthor of the report Enrique Rueda-Sabater. "Governments must tie that understanding of well-being into the machinery of making public policy."

A copy of the report can be downloaded at

To arrange an interview with one of the authors, please contact Eric Gregoire at +1 617 850 3783 or [email protected].

About The Boston Consulting Group
The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) is a global management consulting firm and the world's leading advisor on business strategy. We partner with clients from the private, public, and not-for-profit sectors in all regions to identify their highest-value opportunities, address their most critical challenges, and transform their enterprises. Our customized approach combines deep insight into the dynamics of companies and markets with close collaboration at all levels of the client organization. This ensures that our clients achieve sustainable competitive advantage, build more capable organizations, and secure lasting results. Founded in 1963, BCG is a private company with 81 offices in 45 countries. For more information, please visit

About features the latest thinking from BCG experts as well as from CEOs, academics, and other leaders. It covers issues at the top of senior management's agenda. It also provides unprecedented access to BCG's extensive archive of thought leadership stretching back 50 years to the days of Bruce Henderson, the firm's founder and one of the architects of modern management consulting. All of our content -- including videos, podcasts, commentaries, and reports -- can be accessed by PC, mobile, iPad, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

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