Lessons from the history of GDP in the effort to create better indicators of Prosperity, Well-being and Happiness

Robert Costanza, Maureen Hart, Ida Kubiszewski, Stephen M. Posner, John Talberth

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

    Abstract

    GDP was never designed as a measure of national progress, prosperity, or well-being, and yet it has become the most widely accepted and influential goal for national economic policy. This paper explores how this has come to be, why it is well past time for a change, and what some of the alternatives to GDP might be. These alternative focus on measuring sustainable human well-being, rather than marketed economic activity – what GDP measures. Because GDP measures only monetary transactions related to the production of goods and services, it is based on an incomplete picture of the system within which the human economy operates. As a result, GDP not only fails to measure key aspects of quality of life; in many ways, it encourages activities that are counter to long-term community well-being. As ecological, economic, and social crises deepen, we desperately need new visions of a sustainable and desirable world and new ways to measure progress that have as broad a consensus and are therefore as influential as GDP has been in the past.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationRoutledge Handbook of Sustainability Indicators
    Editors Simon Bell and Stephen Morse
    Place of PublicationLondon
    PublisherRoutledge, Taylor & Francis Group
    Pages117-123
    Edition1st Edition
    ISBN (Print)9781138674769
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2018

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