2019 B.C. Prosperity Index

September 19, 2019
Tara Zwaan

2-Minute Brief

The Business Council of B.C. has partnered with the Ottawa-based Centre for the Study of Livings Standards (CSLS) to produce and publish objective data on critical factors that affect our living standards.

The purpose of the B.C. Prosperity Index is to examine and track British Columbia’s performance on key measures of business, economic, social and community well-being, compared to the rest of Canada and several other advanced economy jurisdictions. This information will make it possible to measure whether and to what extent living standards in the province are getting better over time. It will also enable us to gain insights from top performing jurisdictions on what we can do to increase overall well-being.


The Business Council is making this data available as a resource to elected representatives, public servants, community and business leaders, the media, and the wider B.C. population. The Index provides a common fact base and a platform through which to support dialogue, collaboration and a search for long-term solutions that can improve the prospects of both the kitchen table and the boardroom table.


The B.C. Prosperity Index incorporates a series of 12 indicators that capture different elements of prosperity and citizen well-being. (Two sub-indicators are combined to create a single measure for the state of the environment). The indicators are grouped into three broad domains listed below.

  • Business Environment. This domain includes four indicators that touch on the nature of the economic and competitive environment for businesses and employees: labour productivity; business investment; innovation (R&D spending); and educational attainment.
  • Economic Well-Being. This domain is made up of four indicators that address aspects of personal economic well-being: gross domestic product (GDP) per person; household disposable income; the unemployment rate; and housing affordability.
  • Societal Well-Being. This domain consists of indicators that speak to other dimensions of well-being that affect the quality of life enjoyed by citizens: life expectancy; the incidence of poverty; the degree of income inequality; and the state of the natural environment.

Each of the 12 individual indicators is given an equal weight in calculating the results for the three domains, as well as the overall results for the B.C. Prosperity Index.


In the majority of cases, the most recent year for which comparable data is available for all of the jurisdictions covered is 2017. This reflects the reality of data lags in cross-national research. However, because these measures generally do not change dramatically from year to year, the results reported here offer a reasonable picture of the current situation.


A total of 21 comparatively wealthy national and sub-national jurisdictions are assessed in the B.C. Prosperity Index. The countries included are: Canada, the United States, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, the United Kingdom, France and Germany. Subnational jurisdictions include the other nine Canadian provinces, along with three West Coast American states: California, Oregon and Washington.

How does B.C. Perform?

Out of the 21 jurisdictions, B.C. finds itself in the middle in the pack (11 of 21) in overall prosperity. Within Canada, B.C. scores quite well, ranking third among the ten provinces. However, B.C. places sixth among the eight advanced economy jurisdictions (including Canada) that are featured in the Index.

Top performers in the overall Index results include: California (1st), Washington state (2nd) and Oregon (3rd). The top performing country is Japan (4th), followed by the United States (5th). Alberta (8th) is the top performing Canadian province. Canada placed 15th among the 21 jurisdictions in the Index.

B.C.'s mediocre overall result is based on its below average ranking in the Business Environment domain (15 of 21), a middling ranking on Economic Well-Being (10 of 21), and an above average ranking on Societal Well-Being (7 of 21). 

Looking at the 12 indicators, B.C. performed best on educational attainment (4 of 21) and life expectancy (6 of 21). Unsurprisingly, B.C.’s lowest ranking was in housing affordability (18 of 21). Other indicators on which B.C. under performed include labour productivity (14 of 21) and innovation (13 of 21).


Our hope is that the Index will establish an objective basis for quantifying and tracking B.C.’s performance and progress on many of the indicators that influence prosperity and citizen well-being. We believe the province can benefit by examining the experiences, policies and practices of other jurisdictions that are top performers in areas that B.C. appears to be falling short or is at best a mediocre performer.

2019 Sponsors

Financial supporters committed to our collective prosperity helped make the B.C. Prosperity Index possible. Sponsors, however, had no role in determining its structure or content.


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