The changing wealth of nations 2018: building a sustainable future

National income is underpinned by a country's wealth--measured comprehensively to include all assets, produced capital, human capital, natural capital and net financial assets--and sustained economic growth over the long term requires investment in this broad portfolio of assets. While a macroeconomic indicator like GDP provides an important measure of economic progress, it does not reflect changes in the underlying asset base, and hence, used alone, may provide misleading signals about the state of the economy. GDP does not reflect depreciation and depletion of assets, whether accumulation of wealth keeps pace with population growth, or whether the mix of different assets will support a country's development goals. GDP indicates whether an economy is growing; Comprehensive Wealth indicates the prospects for maintaining economic growth over the long term. Economic performance is best evaluated by monitoring both. The Changing Wealth of Nations 2018 is the latest report on Comprehensive Wealth by the World Bank. It provides a time series from 1995 to 2014 for 140 countries, covering produced capital, 19 types of natural capital, net foreign assets, and, for the first time, an explicit measure of human capital, based on the well-known Jorgenson-Fraumeni lifetime earnings approach. Trends in wealth and sustainable development are assessed, and wealth accounts are used to address a range of important development topics such as economic diversification of resource rich economies, and the gains in national wealth that could be achieved by universal primary education.

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