Alternatives to GDP
by IPSP | Jul 19, 2016 | Forum | 2 comments
ConsensusCaleb South on September 4, 2016 at 1:17 am
I think there needs to be a mix of objective measures (GDP, income distribution, life expectancy, years of education) and subjective ones (happiness, life satisfaction, national culture). There may not be a good way to agree on a single method of measuring and aggregating these different things, though, so maybe at best we can come up with a list of pros and cons for any change. If different polls or metrics tell different stories, we can present each one as a separate consideration. Then it’s up to the democratic process, the sum of millions of individual judgments, to decide what is best.
ControversialMarc Fleurbaey on September 23, 2016 at 9:12 pm
Your view is very popular among statistical offices and administrations, and indeed one should always keep track of the various dimensions. However, aggregating across dimensions is a difficult exercise, and therefore we can’t expect citizens and policy-makers to do it wisely. One option is to have experts prepare different synthetic indicators reflecting different approaches. So, instead of the choice between policy A: a dashboard of domain indicators and policy B: one synthetic indicator, why not policy C: the A dashboard combined with a menu of several synthetic indicators that appear relevant given the prevailing values in the public debate?
In Chapter 4, one reads: “GDP is not necessarily a good guide to determine the welfare of a society or to guide decisions of its actors. So what could guide the decisions of a society?”
There are many different approaches that have been proposed to replace GDP as the main indicator of national achievement. Share your views about how to measure social progress, and how to find practical statistics for this purpose. Rely on your personal life to discuss what is important to measure and what should not be counted.