Besides different developments of NWI and GDP,  the course of both graphs now also shows differences during since the beginning of the century and during the economic crisis in the year of 2009.

Main reason for this is a decreasing ecological costs; primarily the cost of air pollution, the replacement cost for non-renewable resources and damages through CO2 were going back. Altogether these 3 components make up 44 % of the positive increase. Additionally the value of Household Work Work and Volunteer Work has risen.  The uptake of economic growth in the following year led to a considerable rise of damage and replacement cost regarding the environment.

Thus, a rise or fall of the NWI does not perfectly represent, but much more accurate than changes of GDP, whether a society is better or worse off when taking into account ecological sustainability and social justice. Especially in contrast to the different development of GDP shows the crucial difference between an orientation towards economic performance and an orientation towards social welfare.  Whereas a rise in GDP is welcomed by most decision makers in business and politics, the NWI sheds light on the “price” of such an expansion. However, a diminishing NWI or a long-term stagnation on the same level would also not be a positive sign since the goal is a positive development as well.


Development of NWI and GDP in Germany

NWI 2.0 and GDP compared

(2000 = 100)

  • NWI
  • GDP

source: Statistisches Bundesamt; graphic account by FEST/FFU