By Maximilian Clarke

The UK economy has been named as the second worst in which to live and work out of the 34 members of the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

The Good Growth Index includes unemployment, disposable income, work-life balance, health, transport, income inequality and housing, all identified as the priorities of the British people when asked their views about economic success for UK plc. The current economic climate saw the UK ranked the second lowest, with Spain names as the least attractive.

Norway, Germany and the Netherlands came highest in the study as low unemployment, low average hours, low carbon emissions and a high national savings rate.

The index was developed by Demos and PwC through qualitative sessions with the public and wider quantitative public polling involving 3000 people from across the UK in two separate polls. Conjoint analysis was used to determine trade-offs to reveal where the public’s priorities lie. The results were then compared with the views of business leaders, policymakers and other opinion formers.

“Britain’s bumpy road out of recession is understandably causing policymakers and commentators to focus their attention on GDP figures as the key indicator of our economic health,” commented John Hawksworth, chief economist at PwC. “Our research shows that the public takes a wider view of the components of economic success. In the public’s eyes, ‘good growth’ depends on creating jobs what enable their bills to be paid, but also on issues including work-life balance, health, transport, environment, fairness and housing that are seen as critical components of good economic performance.

Kitty Ussher, the report’s co-author and an associate of Demos added: “It shows that while income and jobs are important, they are by no means the whole picture. In particular it sends a clear message to government that health is an economic policy issue; the public understands that without being well they are unable to work and pay their bills. It also proves that people want to be able to work more efficiently; an extra couple of hours away from the workplace each week has a high value. The government should use the opportunity of our slow recovery from recession to support people to restructure their economic lives in the way we show they want to do.”

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