M Reza Faisal/Wikimedia Commons

The GDP-Wellbeing Gap

There is a growing disconnect between GDP and human wellbeing. Without better measures of wellbeing – including health, education, and the state of the natural environment – policymakers cannot gain the insights that they need to ensure the long-term health of the economy, and the individuals who comprise it.

KUALA LUMPUR – The link between economic growth and human wellbeing seems obvious. Indeed, as measured by gross domestic product, economic growth is widely viewed as the ultimate development objective. But it is time to rethink this approach.

In fact, there is a rising disconnect between countries’ per capita GDP and their citizens’ wellbeing, as rapid output growth exacerbates health challenges and erodes environmental conditions. Given this, people increasingly value non-material wealth just as highly as monetary wealth, if not more.

But persuading policymakers and politicians of GDP’s limitations is no easy feat. After all, it is far simpler to defend a well-understood, long-accepted framework than it is to champion a new worldview.

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