Background

From the very beginning of its existence, Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was never intended as a measure of progress or well-being. Its co-creator Simon Kuznets himself warned ‘the welfare of a nation can … scarcely be inferred from a measurement of national income as defined above.’ And yet, many policy makers, the public and the media have treated it precisely as such. From at least as early as the 1960s, there has been concern about this interpretation of GDP, both from politicians such as Senator Robert Kennedy, and from academics and other indicator-producers. Key areas of concern include technical economic critiques of GDP, the growing acknowledgement that GDP and similar measures tend to distract attention from ultimate outcomes such as people’s experiences of their lives, and rising awareness of the need to assess environmental impact.

Click here to read more…