A Better Measure than GDP

Time has published my essay on why GDP is a bad way to measure progress.

French president Nicolas Sarkozy drew heat last month when he suggested that countries should factor happiness into their statistics for growth. After all, Sarkozy campaigned on promises of wealth creation, and rejigging the data to include France’s welfare system, famously generous holidays, and je ne sais quoi seems like an easy way to fulfill a promise he is struggling to keep.

But what if Sarkozy has a point? After all, the figure at which he was taking aim — gross domestic product — was never intended to gauge anything other than how much money was changing hands. Yet we routinely use economic growth as shorthand for how well a country is doing. If we’re going to use a metric to track our progress, shouldn’t we choose something that measures the things we care about?

Read the rest.

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