WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Former Mexican President Vicente Fox sees well-being data as the key to better government policies and more efficient budgets. Fox sat down with Gallup.com at our Washington, D.C., headquarters to discuss Gallup's global well-being surveys, spanning 155 countries, and to share his thoughts on how world leaders should use these data to improve their constituents' lives.
Q. How do you see well-being data as different from other traditional measures, like GDP?
Fox: The driving principle of the quantitative data that we have known up to now is how much you have; how much you're worth. It only relates to owning and having. But these new well-being metrics and concepts change the whole picture. It's a great tool for government and a great tool for decision makers because now we know the real aspirations of people; what they consider being well. And by knowing that, governments can shape budgets to provide people with what they really need.
Q. How can current leaders, those who are in office now, use well-being data to inform social policies and programs?
Fox: These well-being data will allow us to have successful governments and successful democracies -- democracies that can deliver. Many times we build up government plans or put together budgets without really knowing who our customer is and who people are that we are serving. This tool [well-being data] will make government budgeting much more efficient. I think this scale of suffering, struggling, and up to thriving is a key way to describe the universe of people and meet their needs.
Q. Thinking specifically about Mexico, what are some of the key issues there that must be addressed to get more people to be thriving and improve well-being?
Fox: Now, I'm sure if we start searching in Mexico, we will find out there is fear; extended fear because of violence. We would find out that the fear and violence is impeding people to act, people to produce, and people to generate wealth and well-being. When you don't go out of your home because you think you might have a problem of violence right across the street, you become unproductive, you become unhappy, and you end up in the struggling category. So measuring that fear in each region, in states, in municipalities should inform the government in terms of how to change the programming of the budget to address this problem.
Q. If you could tell other world leaders why they should start looking at the well-being data right now, what would you say?
Fox: My message will be very clear and very demanding. Up until now, we have had a blindfold on because we put together programs based on what we think and, in some cases, based on the available data. But if you have a responsibility of serving people, of running government, of decision making related to budgets, you will have a lot more clear sight of what people need and what people will thank you for giving them. So it is clear to me that leaders should have this tool at hand.
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