What is the best way to assess a nation’s prosperity over time? The most commonly used measure is Gross Domestic Product (GDP), but many experts say this indicator is too limited and point to a more comprehensive approach that includes “wealth accounting.” This involves adding up assets such as infrastructure, forests, minerals, and human capital—much like a company evaluates both its income statement (flows) and balance sheet (stocks) to determine performance. The World Bank, a leader in this field, is publishing a new book, “The Changing Wealth of Nations 2018,” which tracks the wealth of 141 countries.
On February 5, the Global Economy and Development program at Brookings and the World Bank co-hosted a panel of experts in this area, including Kristalina Georgieva, chief executive officer of the World Bank. David Pilling, Financial Times Africa editor and author of a new book, “The Growth Delusion: Wealth, Poverty and the Well-being of Nations,” moderated. Prior to the panel, World Bank authors presented the results of their latest research on wealth accounting.
Following the conversation, panelists took audience questions.