Prosperity indicators & the Doughnut portrait

Research question "How does the Doughnut portrait differ from previous prosperity indicator initiatives (if at all)?"

The new prosperity indicators at work: the Doughnut approach as a catalyst? 

The BrusselsDonut research team is currently investigating "How does the Doughnut portrait differ from previous prosperity indicator initiatives (if at all)?"

Following the necessity and urgency of our prevailing economic system transition, new prosperity indicators have flourished worldwide for some years now (visit for a database of some of the existing indicators in France and in the world; see Bleys (2012) for other examples of these indicators). They intend to remove the monopoly status of GDP, highlight other desirable objectives, and shed light on socially or environmentally unsustainable situations.

Yet, despite the abundant literature on the subject and the international spotlight they have received following the work of the "Commission on the Measurement of Economic Performance and Social Progress" (Stiglitz et al. 2009), it is clear that new prosperity indicators are struggling to enter decision-making arenas (with a few exceptions, such as in Bhutan, where Gross National Happiness has replaced GDP). These indicators are either largely unknown or familiar, regularly published and commented on, but not part of binding processes, as would be the case for GDP (examples of these are the ecological footprint, the human development index, or the multidimensional poverty index). When they are produced, published, and promoted by influential institutions, it is at the cost of diluting or watering down their transformative scope because the methodological choices underlying the construction are such that they do not question growth or its social or ecological impacts. Their raison d'être is therefore greatly diminished or even disappears (BAINPOOL, 2014) .

However, in recent years, an approach seems to swarm multiple initiatives at different levels and in different regions of the world: the Doughnut Theory. We aim thus to characterize the "Doughnut approach" to assess the extent to which it is likely to overcome some of the obstacles encountered by other quantification initiatives while not sacrificing the principles that underlie the strong sustainability perspective it carries. 

To do so, we question, through a survey, Doughnut field practitioners to identify the strengths and challenges they face when establishing the Doughnut portrait of their region and thus, assess the catalyst power of the Doughnut portrait. Up to now, we have received 34 answers from 26 different initiatives and intermediary results have been presented at Forum International du Bien Vivre (June 2022, Grenoble, France).

For our results to be representative of field experience and our research to be reliable, we are looking for more answers to our survey. Thus, we invite anyone committed to developing a Doughnut portrait of their region to answer this survey. After being anonymized, cleaned, and analyzed, the results of this survey will be spread throughout the Doughnut community. In answering this survey, you contribute to the Doughnut economics self-assessment in order to improve Doughnut experiences and reinforce the Doughnut community. Your contribution is essential for the success of this survey.

The survey takes 5 minutes long and is accessible via this link:

We thank you very much for your time and contribution. Please feel free to contact me for any questions or suggestions: 

Bleys, B. (2012). Beyond GDP: Classifying Alternative Measures for Progress. Social Indicators Research, 109(3), 355–376.

Stiglitz, J. E., Sen, A., & Fitoussi, J.-P. (2009). Report by the Commission on the Measurement of Economic Performance and Social Progress.
Whitby, A., Thiry, G., Sebastien, L., & Bauler, T. (2014). Beyond GDP-From Measurement to Politics and Policy’-Project Final Report: BRAINPOoL deliverable 5.2..




    Christian Hansen

    Berlin, Germany

    Friend of Donut Berlin, bringing creativity, hope, and curiosity to make our city a safe and just space for all.

    Yvonne-Sylvia Constantin

    Sion, Valais/Wallis, Suisse

    The interest in participating in a project using this concept


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