Interview: Annual Economic Report – Rethinking Prosperity?

For the first time, the JWB includes alternative indicators for measuring prosperity alongside economic growth. We talked to Nicola Brandt and Lara Fleischer from the OECD, who recently analyzed the topic of wealth measurement in a Forum paper, about how much impact the report promises to have.




7. FEBRUARY 2022



Recently, the federal government presented this year’s Annual Economic Report, which is traditionally published in January and is considered an instance to measure and evaluate the state of the country. Normally, the presentation of the annual economic report is an important but not very stirring affair. This year was different. For the first time in its history, the JWB contains a chapter that goes beyond gross domestic product to include other indicators for measuring prosperity, and incidentally is emblematic of the coalition’s struggle over how to actually stand on capitalism.

This is not the first time that Germany has attempted to redefine prosperity. The last time such an attempt was made was in 2013, when the CDU/CSU and SPD initiated a large-scale dialog on the “good life in Germany”. The practical relevance of the initiative, however, failed to materialize. Against this backdrop, we talked to Nicola Brandt and Lara Fleischer from the OECD, who recently examined the question of well-being beyond GDP in a paper for the Forum – which will be available shortly on our website – about what to make of the expanded definition and measurement of well-being in the Annual Economic Report and whether the current attempt promises more success in rethinking well-being in Germany and translating this from theory into practice. In the paper, Brandt and Fleischer take an international perspective on the question of which approaches to measuring well-being already exist in various OECD countries, why they are becoming increasingly relevant, and what lessons can be learned from them – including for Germany.

We wanted to know from Nicola and Lara how they assess the Annual Economic Report and its impact, what they think about the indicator dashboard and its potential benefits for Germany, and how Germany now stands internationally with its JWB chapter on the topic of measuring prosperity. We also talked about how they assess the JWB’s potential to actually become a tangible influence on government decision-making and ultimately on people’s quality of life – unlike its predecessor initiatives.

The whole interview (in German)



For decades, there was a consensus that reducing the role of the state and cutting public debt would generate wealth. This contributed to a chronic underinvestment in education and public infrastructure. New research focuses on establishing when and how governments need to intervene to better contribute to long-term prosperity and to stabilize rather than aggravate economic fluctuations.