Theoretical framework

Theoretical framework
Benefit s of gender equality th rough infrastruct ure provision: an EU-wid e survey 9
1. Theoretical framework
(7) ht tp : // w w w. o ec d be t t er l if e in d ex . or g /# / 11111111111
(8) A brie f conference summary is available for download and more details may be found under 2007 conference, https://ec.europa.
The prevailing economic model of the mid-20th
century measured the development and pro-
gress of countries by their economic develop-
ment. Economic growth was the main criterion
for assessing social development, with public
policy strategies centred on the idea that qual-
ity of life improves with increased GDP or per
capita income.
However, the notion that GDP growth is the
main goal of societies has been questioned
since the late 20th and early 21st centur y.
The rst initiative to change the measure of
development was led by the United Nations
Development Programme (UNDP) in 1990, with
the Human Development Index (HDI) (5). The
HDI was created to emphasise that people and
their capabilities should be the ultimate crite-
ria in assessing the development of a country,
not economic growth alone. The initiative was
supported by the Organisation for Economic
Co-operation and Development (OECD) (6), with
the Bet ter Life Index ( 7).
In the European Union (EU) context, the Euro-
pean Commission, European Parliament, Club
of Rome, OECD and the World Wide Fund for
Nature (W WF) hosted the high-level conference
Beyond GDP  (8) in 2007. The objectives were to
clarify the most appropriate indices to measure
progress and to establish how these can best
be integrated into the decision- making process
and taken up by public debate.
The Beyond GDP initiative (9) was about devel -
oping indicators that are as clear and appealing
as GDP but are more inclusive of environmen-
tal and social aspects of progress. Economic
indicators such as GDP were never designed
to be comprehensive measures of prosperity
and well-being. Suitable (adequate) indicators
are now needed to address some of the global
challenges of the 21st centur y, such as climate
change, povert y, resource depletion, health and
quality of life.
According to the model pursued by the EU,
human development and achievements must
be measured by considering European popula-
tions living standards, well-being, equalit y and
capability development. European governments
are now more willing to assess their popula-
tions well-being in order to make decisions that
have a positive impact on the development of
capabilities and satisfaction levels.
Public infrastructure expenditure receives con-
siderable attention in European policy perfor-
mance and commands a large share of the EU
Infrastructure is the material support for those
parts of our lives in which public spaces and
services are used, as well as communications,
the environment, housing and the economic
activit y serving a country, city, or area (10). It
refers to fundamental facilities and systems,
including those necessary for an economy to
function (Sullivan and Sherin, 2003). It typi-
cally characterises technical s tructures, such as
roads, bridges, tunnels, water supply, sewers,
electrical grids, telecommunications, and can be
dened as the physical components of interre-
lated systems providing commodities and ser-
vices essential to enable, sustain, or enhance
societal living conditions (Fulmer, 2009).
Infrastructure can be broadly dened as long-
term physical asset s that operate in markets

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