Munoz, P., Darkey, E., Oleson, K., and Pearson, L. (2012). Accounting for the inclusive wealth of nations: empirical evidence. In UNU-IHDP and UNEP. Inclusive Wealth Report 2012. Measuring progress toward sustainability. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Key Messages from Chapter
This chapter analyzes changes in the inclusive wealth index (IWI) and its components for 20 countries for the period from 1990 to 2008. Wealth is primarily assessed here as the value of manufactured, human, and natural capital stocks. The Index is additionally adjusted for population changes by presenting per capita measures.
6 out of the 20 countries analyzed decreased their IWI per capita in the last 19 years. In 5 out of 20 countries, population increased at a faster rate than inclusive wealth, resulting in negative changes in the IWI per capita.
The majority of the countries in our sample have had an increase in their stocks of manufactured capital per capita. In China, India and Chile, the positive changes in IWI has been mainly driven by manufactured capital. Russia, Nigeria, and Venezuela saw a decrease in their manufactured capital base.
When the three capital forms measured are adjusted for total factor productivity – oil capital gains and carbon damages the performance of some countries increases considerably, particularly for Nigeria, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela.
Human capital, being the prime capital form that offsets the decline in natural capital in most of the economies, has increased in every country.
This chapter demonstrates that the IWI provides a different perspective for assessing the performance of an economy - this by switching the focus of attention from flows (income) to stock metrics (wealth). This stresses the importance of preserving a portfolio of capital assets to ensure that the productive base can ultimately be maintained to sustain the well-being of future generations.