The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is used as an economic indicator of the nation’s health. Is it effective in that function? The GDP simply measures how much the nation spends. But is all spending equal? Is spending money on bombs and tanks as good for the country as spending on education? Is spending money on renewable energy better than spending money on fossil fuels which harms the environment. Is spending money on recovering from disasters less valuable than spending on preventing disasters.
“Austrian economist Frank Shostak described GDP as “an empty abstraction devoid of any link to the real world”, while others have noted that GDP fails to ascribe any value to voluntary or unpaid contributions to society by mothers and caregivers who contribute to human welfare – but without generating monetary income.”
“The late US Senator Robert Kennedy was severely critical of GDP, describing it as a system that measured “everything except that which makes life worthwhile”.
“In today’s Nature article, Roberts and primary author Robert Costanza argue that GDP mainly measures monetary market transactions, while ignoring social costs, environmental pollution and degradation or the income gap between rich and poor.”
“Durban’s environmental planning and climate protection head, Dr Debra Roberts, said in the international journal Nature, that “It is high time for the world to scrap the “dangerous” and out-dated economic measurement indicator known as GDP (gross domestic product).”
“Instead, the world should build a new, more people-friendly and environmentally-healthy indicator system such as the GPI (genuine progress indicator), GNH (gross national happiness), HPI (happy planet index) or even an NHI (national happiness index).”
What alternatives are there to the GDP?
The GPI, Genuine Progress indicator, counts the cost of pollution and climate change. How do you determine the value of social progress? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BAW2IprtZug
GDP rules the world – but should it? http://www.pbs.org/newshour/making-sense/gdp-rules-the-world-but-should-it/
The World Economic Forum has a series of articles and videos that question the effectiveness of the GDP and explores alternatives. https://www.weforum.org/focus/beyond-gdp
This article suggests five different items that are better indicators of health than the GDP
The government of Bhutan uses the Gross Happiness Index to measure the health of the nation. They think that rather than concentrating simply on economic growth there are four other more important factors that we should concentrate on. 1. Good Governance 2. Conservation of the environment 3. Preservation and promotion of culture 4. Sustainable and equitable socio-economic development. https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2016/05/4-lessons-from-bhutan-on-the-pursuit-of-happiness-above-gdp
Gross National Happiness .mp4 3:34 min.
The Gross National Happiness Index https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KOE3wL26LUA
TEDxHalifax – Silver Donald Cameron – Bhutan: The Pursuit of Gross National Happiness https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1CLJwYW6-Ao
The sustainable economic development indicator.
Douglas Beal: An alternative to GDP that focuses on wellbeing, not just wealth