IHDP Writing Contest on "Beyond GDP" Is Now Open

Our writing contest goes into the fourth round! Young scholars are invited to write and submit an article for publication in the upcoming issue of the Dimensions magazine. The edition will contribute to the debate around “Beyond GDP”.

Due to multiple requests from our community, the deadline has been extended to 15 November 2013.


announcement, blog

September 3, 2013



Beyond GDP.jpg

Our writing contest goes into the fourth round! Young scholars are invited to write and submit an article for publication in the upcoming issue of the Dimensions magazine. The edition will contribute to the debate around “Beyond GDP”. The magazine is directed towards a wider audience, including non-scientists interested in the topic. Upon expiry of the submission deadline, the Secretariat will select up to three winners to be awarded cash prizes - and will publish their work in the magazine (print and online).

Cash prizes will be awarded as follows:   

  • 1st place - US$ 500
  • 2nd place - US$ 200            
  • 3rd place - US$ 100     

Topic: Beyond GDP

Since the immediate aftermath of the Second World War, countries have measured their economic progress with an indicator known as Gross Domestic Product (GDP) or one of its several variants, based on Simon Kuznets' then-revolutionary work into national income. Kuznets himself warned against using national income as a proxy indicator for societal well-being, yet its convenience and ease of standardization have led to its near-universal use by governments in this very way.

Kuznets’ warning cuts to the core of a deeper question: what do we as individuals and societies want out of our economies? Is the purpose of a national economy simply the aggregation of monetary wealth?

In answering this question, it becomes clear that GDP and similar measurements are limited indicators of well-being and prosperity; at the same time they also do fail to reflect the state of natural resources or ecological conditions. Moreover, they focus exclusively on the short term, without indicating whether economic policies are sustainable over longer periods of time.

In recent years, a debate has started around the development of a new type of comprehensive indicators to address global challenges of the 21st century such as health, poverty, resource depletion, climate change, and quality of life. What is needed, argue proponents, are indicators that are as clear and understandable as GDP while incorporating the currently unmeasured environmental and social costs and benefits of human economic activity. Indeed, this need was recently codified in the Rio+20 outcome document The Future We Want: “We recognize the need for broader measures of progress to complement gross domestic product in order to better inform policy decisions, and in this regard we request the United Nations Statistical Commission, in consultation with relevant United Nations system entities and other relevant organizations, to launch a programme of work in this area, building on existing initiatives.” IHDP has itself been deeply involved in one such initiative, the Inclusive Wealth Report, which provides a comprehensive view of well-being based in analyses of national capital accounts.

Articles submitted to the contest should address the “Beyond GDP” debate, and – for example – take on the question of whether GDP is a sufficient indicator for well-being or if the world is in need of a new way to measure just how well our governments and economies are doing at improving the lives of their citizens.

Who is eligible

The contest is open to graduate students, PhD students or postdocs born after 1975. Scholars from developing countries are particularly encouraged to take part.     


Please make sure to consider the following guidelines before writing and submitting your article:

  • Articles must address a significant issue relating to the “Beyond GDP” debate.
  • While the subject matter may cover political, technological, economic or social aspects, articles must be written in a language that is understandable to a non-scientific audience, thus avoiding the use of technical terms. Winning articles will further offer a narrative and be written in an engaging style, providing for an interesting and easy read. Please note that contributions in the style of an academic paper will not be considered.
  • Submissions must be exclusive to this writing contest. In case an article gets chosen as a winner, it must not be published by any other outlet before the release of the magazine.
  • Contestants are asked to provide a short paragraph about themselves stating their date of birth and field of research.
  • Entries are not to exceed 2,500 words and must be submitted as an email attachment (word or pdf) to including “Writing Contest” in the subject line.
  • Deadline extended to 15 November 2013

All submissions will be reviewed carefully. Cash prizes will be awarded to up to three winners whose work will be published in both the print and online version of the magazine (1st place: $ 500; 2nd place: $ 200; 3rd place: $ 100).

Winners will be announced on the IHDP Web site and social media channels and informed via email toward mid November 2013.