The ultimate goal of economic policy is simple and timeless – to ensure prosperity and maximise living standards. Broad macroeconomic measures such as GDP growth, the unemployment rate, and inflation had for decades been a good proxy of rising prosperity, so they have dominated economic policy making and are enshrined in most central bank mandates. But even before the COVID-19 crisis, it had become clear that traditional economic measures have increasingly diverged from social outcomes. The economic expansion of the past decade was a success according to traditional measures of full employment, but it was accompanied by deteriorating social conditions across a variety of measures (inequality, health and safety, educational attainment, infrastructure quality, housing affordability, and so on). With the COVID-19 crisis, the pressures have come to a head as the worst economic downturn in decades is hitting the most vulnerable the hardest.

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