Looking beyond GDP: Measuring prosperity in Ontario

Released October 2016

In Working Paper 27, Looking beyond GDP: Measuring prosperity in Ontario, the Institute analyzes the province and its peer jurisdictions across 11 measures of well-being: access to services, community, civic engagement, education, environment, health, housing, income, jobs, life satisfaction, and safety. The results reveal that Ontario is 5th overall among its peer group. Ontario achieves the greatest results in access to services, health, and safety, but the lowest results in jobs and income. 

The Working Paper uses data from the OECD’s Regional Well-being database. Traditionally, Ontario lags behind its US peers in economic measurements such as GDP per capita, creating a ‘prosperity gap’. In the Institute’s 14th Annual Report, this gap was $12,015. Yet analysis from Looking beyond GDP: Measuring prosperity in Ontario shows the province performs above the median on many social indicators of well-being.

Tiff Macklem, Chair of Ontario’s Panel on Economic Growth and Prosperity says, “Despite this persistent prosperity gap, there are many reasons why Ontarians choose to live, work, and start businesses in this province, ones that go beyond just the income created. Productivity is important, but there are broader aspects that Ontarians consider integral to their prosperity such as having access to a strong health care system, quality education, and housing in safe communities.”

The Institute makes the following recommendations in the report:

  • Phasing out the small business deduction to incentivize firm growth.
  • Increasing the availability and affordability of child care to increase the female labour force participation rate.
  • Strengthening alignment between employers and post-secondary institutions to close the skills gap and improve R&D performance.
  • Increasing ICT adoption by SMEs to enhance productivity.

To follow the conversation online, use #ICProsperity or follow us @Institute_ICP.

Topics: Economic policy, growth, and strategy, Social policy