In December 2013 the CDU, CSU and SPD stated in the Coalition Agreement: “We wish to align our policies more closely with the values and hopes of German citizens and we will therefore conduct a dialogue with them in order to gain an understanding of their views on wellbeing issues. […] We will use this dialogue as a basis for developing a system of indicators for reporting on wellbeing in Germany. This system will provide clear and understandable information at regular intervals on wellbeing in Germany and the progress made with efforts to improve it.”
In this way, the German government has joined the national and international debate on gaining a common understanding of what constitutes wellbeing, prosperity and progress. Along with economic success, it involves aspects such as health, educational opportunity, access to cultural goods, freedom, social cohesion, political co-determination and environmental sustainability. Finding a better way of monitoring and measuring wellbeing will support efforts to improve living standards and ensure that progress is transparent. International organisations such as the OECD, United Nations, World Bank and EU Commission have paid particular attention to this issue over recent years.
The global financial and economic crisis of 2008 also gave added impetus to the debate about wellbeing. A major milestone was the report produced by the commission led by Joseph Stiglitz (USA), a recipient of the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences, along with Amartya Sen (India) and economist Jean-Paul Fitoussi (France). One year after the beginning of the global financial and economic crisis the experts made proposals for measuring overall prosperity as a basis for policymaking.
Over the following years, the proposals made by the Stiglitz-Sen-Fitoussi-Commission were used as the basis for a number of new reporting systems and indicators. These include the OECD's "Better Life Index", "Measuring National Wellbeing" from the UK Office for National Statistics, the Italian "Report on Equitable and Sustainable Well-being in Italy" and the Eurostat Quality of Life Report.
In Germany the topic was taken up by the Council of Economic Experts, experts involved in the "Dialogue on Germany’s Future" initiated by Chancellor Angela Merkel, and the German Bundestag's Enquete Commission on "Growth, Prosperity and Quality of Life – Paths to Sustainable Economic Activity and Societal Advancement in the Social Market Economy". The government report "Wellbeing in Germany – what matters to us" builds on these reports.
The federal government took its own approach to producing this report. It began by initiating the national dialogue to find out what people think constitutes wellbeing.