Media Contacts:             
Ron Boehmer, Governor's Office

Governor O’Malley Releases Genuine Progress Indicator Results

New data shows well-being in Maryland on the rise 

ANNAPOLIS, MD (January 9, 2015) -- Governor Martin O’Malley today released the latest results of Maryland’s Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI), which shows that the overall quality of life for Marylanders increased in 2013, despite a relatively flat economy.

“After incorporating 2013 data on health, safety, education and our environment, we found that wellbeing had significantly increased over the past year even though economic activity remained nearly the same,” saidGovernor O’Malley.  “These results are further evidence that many factors other than money contribute to our quality of life.”

Maryland first calculated its Genuine Progress in 2009, making it the first state government-sanctioned tool of its kind. Since then, the GPI has continued to gain acceptance across the nation as a sound way to measure the true prosperity of our society.  Maryland was further identified as a national leader for Genuine Progress in a PBS NewsHour piece on alternative measures, which aired nationally last year. 

Following suit — Vermont, Hawaii and Washington state have now completed state-sanctioned GPI calculations, while the GPI of Ohio, Utah and Colorado has been calculated in academic studies.  Oregon has committed to using the GPI to assist in shaping their 10 year budgetary plan and the Vermont legislature is using it to help guide the formation of their yearly state budget.

“Here in Maryland, the GPI remains very relevant,” said Governor O’Malley.  “For example, a fiscal note using the GPI was presented to the 2014 General Assembly, in support of a minimum wage increase.  Completed by the Center for a Sustainable Economy, the note showed that the increase would provide more than $2 billion in benefits to Maryland – nearly three times the $700 million in direct wages.” 

While Maryland’s Gross State Product (GSP) did increase slightly over 2012, the GSP only measures how much money circulates in an economy in a given year; the calculation does not consider what the money is spent on, who benefits from the spending, or if spending causes harm to the environment or society.

The GPI’s 26 economic, social and environmental indicators capture factors ignored by GSP; income is adjusted for inequality, harms to the environment are quantified and accounted for, and the positives (volunteering, housework) and negatives (crime, commuting) of society are included. 

On the whole, the new data indicates the GPI increased by 3.27 percent, to $223.52 billion.  Economic factors rose nearly 2 percent, while the cost of environmental impacts fell almost 4 percent and social factors increased 3 percent.

While spending on personal consumption in Maryland did rise slightly, what truly drove the increase in the GPI in 2013 was an improving environment and positive trends observed in social factors.  Maryland saw improvements in both air and water quality in 2013.  Fewer fossil fuels were used, necessitating less investment in replacing energy sources for future generations.  Social factors, like volunteering, the value of housework, and cost of motor vehicle crashes all improved from 2012 to 2013.  On the downside, Maryland did see an increase the cost of commuting, as the average time it takes to commute to work increased in 2013.

Many of the improvements experienced can be linked to programs like EmPOWER Maryland, where weatherization of low income homes and rebates for energy efficiency have led to a 10 percent reduction in per capita demand for electricity since 2007.  Environmental legislation such as the Maryland Healthy Air Act of 2006, Maryland Clean Cars Program of 2007, and actions taken to meet Bay restoration goals have led to positive trends in state air and water quality.  Maryland has one of the best educated populations in the United States, a value included in the GPI and supported by state actions such as capping tuition increases at 3 percent and increasing funding for community colleges by nearly $100 million since 2007.

The GPI joins a host of innovative interactive tools ― such as GreenPrint, BayStat and the Maryland Green Registry ― that have been developed for Maryland citizens under Governor O’Malley’s Smart, Green and Growing Initiative.  The GPI ― along with a helpful new video that explains the indicator ― is available