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LETTER : True measures of human happiness

From Mrs Andrea Kelmanson

Sir: In the absence of government initiatives to measure what Geoff Mulgan refers to as qualitative growth in the economy, it has been left to voluntary agencies to highlight activities, such as volunteering, which add so much to our quality of life but are ignored by conventional measurements of economic growth.

Last week, the Volunteer Centre UK published a research report estimating the economic value of volunteering in Britain at £41bn, more than the construction industry. Next week, the World Summit on Social Development in Copenhagen will debate whether unremunerated work should be included in national economic statistics, a modest measure supported by a range of voluntary agencies but reportedly opposed by the British government.

Until governments attempt to include such qualitative factors in their economic decision-making, they will continue to pull the wrong levers, and economic success, as experienced by people rather than merely by statisticians, will continue to elude them.

Yours faithfully,



The Volunteer Centre UK

London, NW1

27 February