My top ten things to dislike about GDP

Several web-sources that I keep an eye on have recently been buzzing about GDP, and its potential replacements. So, I feel prompted to do another top-ten. This time it’s the top-ten things that I dislike most about GDP. And this is from someone who has done a lot of methodological development on the underlying detail of this measure. Beautiful work it was too that I did, but what is the point in further refining a fundamentally flawed measure?

Here we go…

  • it says nothing about distribution

– probably the worst thing about GDP, but, ironically it is also a failure for many of the alternatives which measure society.

  • it doesn’t value unpaid work…
  • …and so it is gender and age biased…

and as a result destroys communities and doesn’t value intimacy

  • … and thus promotes the wrong kind of development at the wrong speed.
  • it ignores the use of irreplaceable resources…
  • …including social capital.
  • it values making silk-purses out of sows’ ears and undervalues social goods

meaning that a country can move forward by marketing cheap t-shirts as expensive designer goods instead of investing in, say, public education

  • its relationship to any kind of well-being is proven to be poor
  • “the tragedy is, the things we can measure well don’t matter, the things that matter, we can’t measure well” – name that quote!
  • people know its faults but still insist on using it as a yardstick and comparator – even in writing ‘golden rules’.
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About stuartastill

Consultant: interested in analysis that impacts politics i.e. everything! Can do difficult equations - but avoids when working with humans
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