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Basic Approach to Establishing a Scientific Development Evaluation System


By Hou Yongzhi, Gao Shiji and Liu Peilin, Research Team on "The System of Evaluation Indicators for Scientific Development", Department of Development Strategy and Regional Economy, the DRC Research Report No 62, 2012

Establishing the scientific development evaluation system and designing a series of measurable objective and subjective indicators reflecting the essential requirement of the scientific outlook on development is an important way to promote substantial change of the development pattern and propel scientific development, and also an effort on fundamental system construction to implement the scientific outlook on development. Domestic and foreign experience has proved that evaluation indicators, only accepted by society, will become influential guidance for social and economic development. Currently, contradictions of imbalanced and unsustainable social and economic development are still great. To solve these contradictions and realize "people-centered, balanced and sustainable" development, we must, based on theoretical analysis, learn from available development evaluation methods both at home and abroad, to accelerate the establishment of the universally-accepted indicator system evaluating scientific development.

I. Connotation of Scientific Outlook on Development

To establish the indicator system evaluating scientific development, we must have more profound understanding about the connotation of the scientific outlook on development, and translate the core, essential elements, fundamental requirements and basic methods into actions. In accordance with new requirement for development in the new stage, we regard scientific development as "people-centered, efficient, fair and sustainable".

1. Scientific development is a people-centered development

The scientific development should be people-centered and balanced in an all-around and sustainable way. Balanced and sustainable development is the way to benefit people. We should understand and grasp the connotation of the scientific outlook on development from a holistic perspective and by connecting the principle that "development is the top priority" and the feature of "being people-centered, balanced in an all-around and sustainable way". Without "being people-centered" as the core, we can hardly distinguish "development is the top priority" from developmentalism, highlight the unique socialist development pattern with Chinese characteristics, or understand the connotation of the scientific outlook on development. It is realistically reasonable to emphasize the central importance of economic development and that development is of paramount importance in today's China. The scientific outlook on development requires us to always keep in mind the ultimate purpose of development, which is to create conditions for the ultimate realization of the "absolute liberalization of people" and "all-around free development of people", while promoting development. The realization of "putting-people first" has different stages. For example, in the current stage, working is a tool for people to earn a living, rather than the primary demand of life; therefore, we can hardly realize the "absolute liberalization of people" now. To conclude, the scientific outlook on development is an approach coordinating the purpose and the tool as well as the ideal and the reality.

2. Scientific development is an efficient development

Efficient development provides the material foundation to put people at the central place. For a big developing country like China, the economic growth rate should maintain a high level in the long run so as to continuously provide improving material conditions for scientific development. Considering the large population and comparatively insufficient resources, fast economic development should be based on the optimized structure, high efficiency and high benefits. The efficient development should be reflected not only in micro aspects but also in macro ones.

3. Scientific development is a fair development

Fair development means to fully motivate all social members' enthusiasm, initiative, creativity and dynamism in starting up business with innovation, by establishing systems and mechanisms based on equal opportunities, rights and rules, so that the masses can fully participate in the process of industrialization, urbanization and modernization and share the fruits of development in a fair and rational way. On this basis, minimum security should be provided to those losing the capability of work and those temporarily in need of assistance due to business or innovation failures through the secondary and third income distribution.

4. Scientific development is a sustainable development on the basis of technological progress

Sustainable development concerns the equality between generations, and the key for sustainable development is to balance the living standard and quality between the current generation and their offspring. However, to realize sustainable development and leave enough resources and space for living for future generations doesn't mean the current generation should live an abstinent life like Puritans. We should fully estimate the influence of constant technological progress on the allocation of resources among generations. The scientific development we are pursuing is a sustainable development based on technological progress rather than frugality.

II. Basic Approach and Principle of Designing the Evaluation Indicator System

To establish the indicator system evaluating the scientific development, we should, first of all, understand problems in China's development, weaknesses and strengths of available theoretical exploration and practical experience in establishing the development evaluation system, and then formulate scientific and rational principles to design the system in light of the connotation of the scientific outlook on development.

Since the implementation of reform and opening up policies, China has achieved world-known progress in social and economic development. However, this progress is far from meeting the requirement of scientific development, as insufficient importance is attached to people and the development should be more efficient, fair and sustainable. To solve these issues and guide the development, many regions and departments at home have explored to improve the development evaluation system. Some of their research and practice focused on the evaluation of specific aspects of development, some on local development or specific departments, and some others tried to comprehensively evaluate the development situation.

There are similar theoretical research and practical explorations conducted by other countries such as Bhutan, the UK and Australia and relevant international institutions including the United Nations (UN), the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the World Bank. Upon the invitation of French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Prof. Joseph Stiglitz and Prof. Amartya Sen conducted a joint research on improving the national accounting.

These efforts are reference for us to establish a complete evaluation system of scientific development, but cannot be directly used to evaluate China's scientific development. The reasons are: first, there is no clear theoretical connection between indicators selected in domestic research and exploration and the scientific outlook on development; second, there is still a gap between indicators selected in international research and exploration and China's real situation.

Based on theoretical analysis of the connotation of the scientific outlook on development and by summarizing experiences in theoretical and practical efforts both at home and abroad, this paper hereby proposes some basic ideas and principles to design the evaluation indicator system.

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