Why governments should prioritize well-being | Nicola Sturgeon


Just over a mile away from here,
in Edinburgh’s Old Town, is Panmure House. Panmure House was the home of the world-renowned
Scottish economist Adam Smith. In his important work
“The Wealth of Nations,” Adam Smith argued,
amongst many other things, that the measurement of a country’s wealth was not just its gold and silver reserves. It was the totality of the country’s
production and commerce. I guess it was one of the earliest
descriptions of what we now know today as gross domestic product, GDP. Now, in the years since, of course, that measurement
of production and commerce, GDP, has become ever more important, to the point that today — and I don’t believe this
is what Adam Smith would have intended — that it is often seen as
the most important measurement of a country’s overall success. And my argument today
is that it is time for that to change. You know, what we choose to measure
as a country matters. It really matters,
because it drives political focus, it drives public activity. And against that context, I think the limitations of GDP
as a measurement of a country’s success are all too obvious. You know, GDP measures
the output of all of our work, but it says nothing
about the nature of that work, about whether that work
is worthwhile or fulfilling. It puts a value, for example,
on illegal drug consumption, but not on unpaid care. It values activity in the short term that boosts the economy,
even if that activity is hugely damaging to the sustainability of our planet
in the longer term. And we reflect on the past decade of political and economic upheaval, of growing inequalities, and when we look ahead to the challenges
of the climate emergency, increasing automation, an aging population, then I think the argument for the case
for a much broader definition of what it means to be successful
as a country, as a society, is compelling, and increasingly so. And that is why Scotland, in 2018, took the lead, took the initiative
in establishing a new network called the Wellbeing Economy
Governments group, bringing together as founding members the countries of Scotland, Iceland
and New Zealand, for obvious reasons. We’re sometimes called the SIN countries, although our focus is very much
on the common good. And the purpose of this group
is to challenge that focus on the narrow measurement of GDP. To say that, yes,
economic growth matters — it is important — but it is not all that is important. And growth in GDP should not be pursued
at any or all cost. In fact, the argument of that group is that the goal, the objective
of economic policy should be collective well-being: how happy and healthy a population is, not just how wealthy a population is. And I’ll touch on the policy
implications of that in a moment. But I think, particularly
in the world we live in today, it has a deeper resonance. You know, when we focus on well-being, we start a conversation that provokes profound
and fundamental questions. What really matters to us in our lives? What do we value
in the communities we live in? What kind of country,
what kind of society, do we really want to be? And when we engage people
in those questions, in finding the answers to those questions, then I believe that we have
a much better chance of addressing the alienation
and disaffection from politics that is so prevalent in so many countries across the developed world today. In policy terms, this journey
for Scotland started back in 2007, when we published what we call
our National Performance Framework, looking at the range of indicators
that we measure ourselves against. And those indicators
are as varied as income inequality, the happiness of children, access to green spaces, access to housing. None of these are captured
in GDP statistics, but they are all fundamental
to a healthy and a happy society. (Applause) And that broader approach is at the heart
of our economic strategy, where we give equal importance
to tackling inequality as we do to economic competitiveness. It drives our commitment to fair work, making sure that work
is fulfilling and well-paid. It’s behind our decision to establish
a Just Transition Commission to guide our path
to a carbon zero economy. We know from economic
transformations of the past that if we’re not careful,
there are more losers than winners. And as we face up to the challenges
of climate change and automation, we must not make those mistakes again. The work we’re doing here in Scotland
is, I think, significant, but we have much, much to learn
from other countries. I mentioned, a moment ago,
our partner nations in the Wellbeing network: Iceland and New Zealand. It’s worth noting, and I’ll leave it to you
to decide whether this is relevant or not, that all three of these countries
are currently led by women. (Applause) They, too, are doing great work. New Zealand, in 2019,
publishing its first Wellbeing Budget, with mental health at its heart; Iceland leading the way on equal pay,
childcare and paternity rights — not policies that we immediately think of when we talk about
creating a wealthy economy, but policies that are fundamental
to a healthy economy and a happy society. I started with Adam Smith
and “The Wealth of Nations.” In Adam Smith’s earlier work,
“The Theory of Moral Sentiments,” which I think is just as important, he made the observation
that the value of any government is judged in proportion to the extent that it makes
its people happy. I think that is a good founding principle for any group of countries
focused on promoting well-being. None of us have all of the answers, not even Scotland,
the birthplace of Adam Smith. But in the world we live in today,
with growing divides and inequalities, with disaffection and alienation, it is more important than ever that we ask and find the answers
to those questions and promote a vision of society that has well-being,
not just wealth, at its very heart. (Applause) You are right now in the beautiful,
sunny capital city … (Laughter) of the country that led the world
in the Enlightenment, the country that helped lead the world
into the industrial age, the country that right now
is helping to lead the world into the low carbon age. I want, and I’m determined,
that Scotland will also be the country that helps change the focus of countries
and governments across the world to put well-being at the heart
of everything that we do. I think we owe that to this generation. I certainly believe we owe that
to the next generation and all those that come after us. And if we do that, led here
from the country of the Enlightenment, then I think we create
a better, healthier, fairer and happier society here at home. And we play our part in Scotland in building a fairer,
happier world as well. Thank you very much. (Applause)

100 Replies to “Why governments should prioritize well-being | Nicola Sturgeon

  1. So proud that Nicola is our First Minister. Hopefully one day she will lead an independent Scotland🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿❤

  2. Why governments should get out of the WAY for us to make our own lives — because even when they try, they waste money and screw up.

  3. Seriously shut up lady! I despise wealthy people down playing the importance of money. Ask a poor person if money is important and you'll get a very different answer. The poor don't want well being, they want to own their own home. Stupid politicians spending tax payer dollars on moral grand standing projects instead of creating useful jobs and reducing unemployment. Disgusting! And the reason these governments have the spare money to spend on social projects is because they are protected by more powerful nations. The USA everyone is always bitching about? Its defence umbrella has given us an exceptional period of peace. Prior to the USA becoming a world power wars were far more rampant and wide spread. Now nations don't need to spend a huge percentage of their budget on armies and navies to protect their borders and sea trade. As the USA becomes oil independent due to advances in fracking (yes that is becoming a mainstream oil production whether we like it or not) it is going to stop safeguarding allies and sea lanes and the world is going to become much less secure. All this well being is going to seem like idiocy (which it is) when Nations start scrambling to secure resources they once took for granted.

  4. How is it TED not TED x is putting out politically motivated garbage… For smart people you allow you sure let stupid people say allot

  5. The government does not care about the people and their well being, it cares for the Governments well being, the very act of trying to have the government help the people ends up an oxymoron. When one speaks of being led, one is speaking of government. Do gooders are something to be careful of, especially if they say, "well the government should do something."

    "Good intentions will always be pleaded for every assumption of authority. It is hardly too strong to say that the Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions. There are men in all ages who mean to govern well, but they mean to govern. They promise to be good masters, but they mean to be masters."

    Daniel Webster

  6. This is why I think that the US is not the best country in the world.
    People say the US is the richest country just looking at GDP solely.
    But other factors mentioned in this tedtalk are not considered at all when people say "US is the best country in the world."

  7. Why do all the people pushing the U.N. 2030 sustainable development goals want the general population to work in factories for global corporations?

  8. Dear prime minister: I pray that you country shall get one day it’s independence, so that you can leave this political version of a rectal bleeding that is brexit behind you.

  9. The greatest risk with measuring a nation's success by its GDP will emerge if/when China's GDP races past US economy and becomes world's new center for trade and finance. This will tell us that liberal democracy is an interior system. We need to rediscover why our ancestors decided to put up with the often tedious and ineffective system of democracy.

  10. The "mental" misery of a nation is measured by the difference between the wealth of the rich and the nakedness of the poorest.

  11. We can not complain about the state of the world when we have a child, because before we had a child we should have cleaned up the planet. The Earth is the cradle in which we install this new person. The cradle must be clean before installing a person who has not asked to exist.

  12. America needs a more compassion leader. Like Bernard Sanders. #Bernie2020 The world could benefit from some compassion and love for one another. Maybe we could turn this shitshow around. Proud of this wonderful Scottish leader 💙✌️🇺🇸

  13. Women leaders are the way to turn this shitshow around. The fucking world is on fire and the human race is on track for extinction and those that don’t believe this – that’s ur problem because facts don’t care about ur idiotic feelings. Grow a pair, step up and let’s do what’s gonna save our species.

  14. New Zealand's government has had failure after failure with most metrics on "well being" getting worse – because government policy is making business harder and the country poorer.
    It should also be noted that the richest countries in terms of GDP are also the happiest, put really simply for Nicola Sturgeon, if GDP is high countries can afford to have comprehensive social safety nets, erode GDP through government efforts to make things "fair" and tax take declines – and then government spending must decline – and then the social safety nets get holes in them with less spending on things like education and health.

  15. the fact that someone even needs to say this is a big part of my everyday anxiety… i feel a lot of the world as been gaslit in to a state of sosiopathy by a fear that is driven by and is driving lonelyness and asosiated greed in competition aganst the other… but this has not always been the state of humans, not so constantly, and it dosnt need to be…

    for most of humans existanse, in prehistory, our threat was the weather and other animals most of the time, ocationaly other groups of humans, but mostly other humans was our safty and home, our friends and family. as we started to live in much larger groups, arguably the start of history by defenition, the balanse of threat tipped over to the reverse, those we lived with started to become largly strangers, and if the other group had an army we needed one as well, and the leaders lived separate from the rest… things change, we are at a point when the treat has changed onse more, we are our threat, we could have a war that could end everyone, not just the other, and we threaten the weather the feeds us not the other way around, and our current state of being makes us dependent again on one another, but this time on a global economy…

    fear makes you shortsighted. makes you quetion what you need just to get trough the day. and i think the most important question in her talk was, what do we realy want? what realy matters to us? i think that is the only question that matters if we will chose or not, to change our way of being, possibly ever again~

  16. The SNP ruined Scottish education system with their curriculum and hand money left and right to people too lazy to work while squeezing the active ones. I'd stay away from any advice this woman gives.

  17. 1: why is ted x giving a politician a platform?
    2: whether you like it or not money is incredibly important. Especially in a world where if you don't make it another country will!
    3: the west have screwed other countries over royally to achieve dominance, and still do to maintain the economy and power. We start wars, steal resources and strangle opponents. If we didn't they would do the same to us! It's a catch 22 at the moment.
    4: there is an agenda (unsure if Nicola knows this or is unknowingly caught up in promoting it) the agenda is to combine countries into bigger states. So Canada, USA, Mexico
    Vs Eu as a state. Vs china etc.
    Don't tell me it's not because financially it is impossible for the EU to survive without a fiscal union. It will happen. Also US politics on immigration make far more sense when you realise this plan.
    Hilary use to campaign for borders and protectionism. Now she claims the USA shouldn't have them! And anyone who argues with her is told they are uncaring and racist.
    She doesn't actually care. She wants no boarders so the country's can be joined!
    5: which brings me to my final point. People like Nicola are actively damaging any chance of us as people learning to care more for others and the environment and human rights. Why? Because these beautiful human traits are being used as a weapon to control us and force us into an agenda that is not out in the open, and it has many holes in it that must be fixed with far better democracy than what it currently gives.
    Stop being self righteous, stop guilt tripping people and give the public their say and actually listen.

  18. Nicola Sturgeon, the leader of the SNP that wants independence from the UK so she can have home rule but wants to stay in the EU (which means they would be ruled by the EU laws and regulations) such a hypocritical idiot that looks like a rat

  19. I have deep respect for this style of strong leadership with love. The world needs more leaders with this attitude.

    Better well-being should be thought of as an essential ingredient for increasing economic productivity . Science shows us that happier workers are more productive and what is surprising is that monetary incentive actually reduces productivity.Science also shows us that the most important factor for well-being, happiness, health, and success in our relationships and work is the feeling of trust in those around us, that they are there for us no matter what.

    All wealth is the result of people working together, no man has achieved anything of significance without the collective efforts involving the participation of other people. We are interdependent and we need each other, that is the way nature made us, to bind us together with love. The individualistic, selfish ambitious attitude is a deviant of nature, in prehistoric times, in our natural environment such a person would have difficulty surviving. With chimpanzees, aggressive individuals that lack compassion get rejected, if they do manage to get to the top, it will not be for long and it ends very badly. Certain world leaders, I will mention no names, should take note here. Surprisingly the most affectionate chimpanzee is the alpha female and the next most affectionate is the alpha male . When subordinates quarrel , the alphas will split them up and it will be the loser, the weaker chimp that gets the sympathy and affection.

    How can we trust and respect a society where we know that there are people who have to eat from dustbins and sleep on the streets. How can we expect our children to grow up trusting and respecting authority which has failed them because at school they feel unsafe and intimidated by the aggressive behavior of other children (which is not the fault of the teachers).Children who cruelly get labeled as academic failures will tend to adopt aggressive behavior to compensate for this and so increases the level of violence in society. For many of the quiet unassertive children, the noisy intimidating school environment is traumatic, for them society is like an abusive parent.

    Society should be like having good loving parents which we trust will do the best for us and show us how to be good people by example. That would win our respect, gratitude, and give us a natural desire to reciprocate the benevolence and be good people ourselves. For the benefit of all we need to be taught how to achieve our potential and become the best version of ourselves. We need leaders that we can respect and trust to fulfill this noble purpose.

    It is the children's well-fare that needs addressing most urgently and school is where reform could have the most impact on our culture. There they can be taught what they need to learn most of all, that is how to love and how to work. To live better, they need to be taught how to control their emotions so that they can be free to love themselves and to love others. Each child should start life in society feeling protected, safe, loved and valued.They should be taught the beauty of the richness of diversity and to value their uniqueness. They should feel a sense of value in their education and see that authority is there to help them. As they grow into their teens they should feel a reassurance that life will give them freedom of opportunities to contribute to society by doing work most suited to them and do so with a feeling of fulfillment, pride and dignity.

    Society is not just the leaders, we are in this together, each of us can make a difference to support such initiatives by thinking and talking about this to encourage and influence the leaders to act and make this world a better place.

  20. Okay seriously how is Scotland not its own country at this point? Its doing sooooo much better than the UK on so many metrics that its not even funny at this point.

  21. Scotland took the lead in drug deaths, forwarding progression to new levels while talking about the ageing population like they have done for decades with no new solution apart from immigration only a worsening state in which she then stands and talks about the worlds problems while she can't even sort out her own country but then again you can always blame England cranky.

  22. Her kind of politics does not breed well being. Every minute she blames, evades, lies, deceives and her supporters bully, intimidate, threaten and destroy. But she is being true to her hypocritical self at least.

  23. Hey TED. What's the reason for letting a pedophile like Lindsay Amer on one of your stages? You've lost any credibility (Which wasn't much.) you had left with me when you did that.

  24. Unfortunately, there are too many ideas as to what Happiness and well being are and influenced by far too different concepts.

  25. I don't believe in any type of govt anymore. They are private corporations running in public money. The example is Asia, Africa and Latin America; where most people lived in extrem poverty and the top leaders/ministers lives in filthy lavish luxury lives.

  26. Well being is the responsibility of the individual. Trying to pawn that off onto government is irresponsible and lazy, and cheating and robbing those who actually worked to get theirs. Happiness is temporary, and not something to pursue directly. To pursue it is like pursuing a sunny day.

  27. I also believe Governments, Scottish Governments included, should prioritise honouring UK wide democratic votes, such as a referendum for instance.

  28. This speech is absolutely idiotic. GDP is a well establish metric for countries productiveness. GDP(PPP) has a good metric for purchasing power per capita. None of this is relevant in any way to her actual point. 50% of fucking British funding goes to social wellfare , while a working-class person such as myself with no ability to use any of this funding and making minimum wage has to pay extorion-level amount of money for such basic wellbeing services as dental fixtures.

    Most people in UK that don't make a lot of money have rotten teeth. It's true. And more and more money is being put into systems that are being exploited over and over again by fraudsters and bums, that spend their wellfare on alcohol or drugs and provide nothing productive for our country.

    Good job guys… Real fucking good job.

  29. Your health and happiness are up to you, dear. Should I get to a point in which I need to rely on the government for joy and health, I'd prefer to hang myself.

  30. The purpose of government is to protect the nation and its people and preserve our natural born freedoms and pursuit of happiness. It is NOT to make our lives good. That’s the job of the individual and their immediate community.

  31. She's a politician, and politicians only care about furthering their careers. Typical move from a politician: appear to be sympathetic to people's well-being to gain voters. She's a hypocrite to talk about well-being while being able to step on anyone to get ahead

  32. This reminds me of Bobby Kennedy's GDP speech, '[GDP] measures everything in short, except that which makes life worthwhile', and that was back in 1968. Maybe with 50 years worth of gestation, the idea will be listened to this time.

  33. Geezzzeee – more TED crap. Please don't expose your children to this BS; teach them thinking skills so that when confronted with these destructive ideas you will have given them the tools to reject this nihilism.

  34. 100% Agree I didn't think Nicola Sturgeon would have echoed my thoughts on this matter. Scotland should have left when they had the chance.

  35. No ones on here is slagging her off! she’s potentially the biggest threat to peace in Europe and very much a part of the Centrist movement that is trying to break up my country and undermine Britain’s military capacity to go forward and create a European army which will tip the balance of power.
    This woman and her hairbrain globalist agenda is a disgrace.

  36. The one thing that countries try most desperately to hide are measurements of happiness. Unhappiness refutes political legitimacy. Can you imagine a politician asking people why they are unhappy? There would be a riot.
    Americans hate Washington. They hate the schools, the pharmaceutical drug scam, the high taxes, the police, the leftist government agencies, and the totally corrupt congress. So it's safe to say that they are not happy.

  37. Government's should prioritise people's well being, Nicola. Try starting with your own country. Record drugs death's. Failing NHS. No confidence in the police or criminal justice system. Educational standards falling. You talk the talk. Now walk the walk. Forget about indyref2. And talking about community's. Look at your own constituency of Govanhill. Enough said.

  38. What a load of nonsense. Just a way for a weak government to wriggle out it's commitment to it's people. "why don't we replace this hard metric with an easy to doctor set of woolly numbers" sneers the politician.

  39. A bunch of know nothing communist hacks. The government has and never will pay a single penny of anything. The government takes money from rich people (at gun point) to pay for people who cant/wont take care of themselves. What gives you communists the right to take money from rich people at a higher rate than the rest of us? You dont care about poor people, you just hate the rich. You are communists. The evil kind. The kind that would kill those who are doing just a little better than the rest of us.

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  41. The goal should be the collective well being. YES! Bravo! Thank You, Nicola sturgeon, for packing so much important information in just 10 minutes. Powerful message …may we heed the call. Love & Peace to All

  42. The racists snp needs to stop blaming everyone else. They have been in power so long that the probablems in Scotland are now entirely their own creation.
    As for independence they need to drop it and actually try running the country.

  43. That was just amazing. I am not that smart to bring some analogies nor do I have any experience in the field of economy, but I do agree that prosperity of any country takes its root from the mental and physical well being of its dwellers

  44. “Our lives become beautiful not because of what we do, our lives becomes beautiful simply because we have included everybody around us as a part of our dream of well being.”
    ―     Jaggi Vasudev,   Inner Management: In the Presence of the Master

  45. Sturgeon is nothing but a traitor to the people of Scotland. She should stand down as First Minister. She only cares about one thing and one thing only and thats to shackle the country and the people of Scotland to the EU. What is in it for her? What is her reward for being a traitor going to be?

  46. Government, government, government… Liberals love government… It's a trap. Use Adam Smith to sustain more government?? Absurd.

  47. Wellbeing in new zealand encompasses the wellbeing of our country our rivers mountains our people and all that live in our beautiful land tihei mauri ora

  48. Oh really, Nicola Sturgeon, so since GDP is the greatest measure of economic success, how then can you call mixed economies that produce large quantity of surplus waste because they're faced with the economic calculation problem like all socialism and then stand there and call that 'economic success,' eh? Adam Smith was also a capitalist, a supporter of the free market, he wasn't an economic illiterate who supports social democracy aka corporatism.

  49. Productivity is the basis of moral. The job of government is to keep the streets clean and to protect us; not to make us happy but rather to stay out of the way and let a healthy free enterprise system flourish. Productive workers are happier citizens. And yet, I am not opposed to government subsidizing the creation of parks and symphonies.

  50. So moving! Unfortunately, the well-being of citizens all over the world are not held at the standard of which they should be, and this TED Talk explains why that shouldn't be the case.

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