Governments should introduce a wealth and wellbeing index to help measure economic prosperity as GDP is too crude a measure, according to a former UK senior civil servant.

Gus O'Donnell, who served as Cabinet Secretary between 2005 and 2011 under New Labour, has proposed a radical reform of public policy-making targeted at wellbeing.

The report, which was chaired by O'Donnell and commissioned by thinktank the Legatum Institute, argued countries should change their health, education and economic policies using measures of wellbeing as an indicator of success.

"To measure a country's progress, we also need to look at how satisfied we are with our lives and how worthwhile our lives are," said O'Donnell.

The study argued that examining the most important influences on wellbeing identifies some "startling" new policy priorities such as treating mental ill health as professionally as physical ill health and, among other things, that parents should be offered parenting classes to cover emotional and physical aspects of "child rearing".

"The idea that there is more to life than money surely resonates with everyone," said Graeme Leach, director of economics and prosperity studies at the Legatum Institute.