O problema com o PIB dos países pobres

SEATTLE – Mesmo nas alturas financeiramente prósperas, os orçamentos de ajuda ao desenvolvimento raramente são abundantes. Os líderes dos governos e os doadores têm de tomar decisões difíceis sobre onde devem concentrar os seus recursos limitados. Como decidir quais os países que devem receber empréstimos com condições favoráveis ou vacinas mais baratas; e quais os que podem dar-se ao luxo de financiarem os seus próprios programas de desenvolvimento?

A resposta depende, em parte, de como medimos o crescimento e as melhorias na vida das pessoas. Tradicionalmente, um dos factores orientadores tem sido o PIB per capita - o valor dos bens e serviços produzidos por um país durante um ano, dividido pela população do país. Contudo, o PIB pode ser um indicador impreciso nos países mais pobres, o que é uma preocupação não só para os políticos ou pessoas como eu, que lêem muitos relatórios do Banco Mundial, mas também para quem queira utilizar as estatísticas de modo a arranjar argumentos suficientes para ajudar as pessoas mais pobres do mundo.

Há muito que acredito que o PIB não expõe adequadamente o crescimento, até mesmo nos países ricos, onde a sua medição é bastante sofisticada, por ser muito difícil comparar o valor dos cabazes de bens em diferentes períodos de tempo. Nos Estados Unidos, por exemplo, um conjunto de enciclopédias, em 1960, era caro, mas tinha um grande valor para as famílias com crianças estudiosas. (Posso falar por experiência própria, depois de ter passado muitas horas debruçado sobre os vários volumes da World Book Encyclopedia que os meus pais compraram para as minhas irmãs e para mim). Hoje, graças à Internet, as crianças têm acesso a muito mais informação gratuitamente. Como é que se decompõe isso no PIB?

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