Friday, November 26, 2004

Measuring the Economy

The True Measure of Success isn't GDP, and the types of statistics governments collect don't tell us anything about what really matters, says Daniel Pink:
"We measure whether life is getting better by checking whether the good numbers (GDP, personal incomes, and so on) are going up and the bad numbers (unemployment, inflation, and so on) are going down. However, over the past half century, something strange has happened. The US's per capita GDP - the value of all the goods and services a nation produces divided by its population - has nearly tripled, but American well-being hasn't budged. We've grown almost three times richer but not one jot happier. There's ample evidence that in all postindustrial societies, material wealth and broader happiness are no longer closely in sync."
His ideas for collecting data related to well-being are compelling. Idealistic, of course, but why not imagine a better future?


Christopher Bailey said...

It might seem idealistic, but at least it would move us in a forward-looking direction. We seem so locked into past practices that are linked to an industrial system no longer in use (witness the way the US educational system continues to teach as if it were sending students off to the factories). And the current measurements also continue to perpetuate the cultural connection between wealth and happiness.

Gee, that seems like a rant. Sorry about that. I agree with you that we need to create metrics and practices that better match where we want to go rather than just stick with where we've been. Cheers. CB

Garth said...

The article reiterates the point that financial wealth has never brought happiness. Just look at all those billionaires giving away money on reality TV? I'm not sure philanthropy is the answer for happiness either. Maybe it isn't about being happy but about having purpose.

Jeremy said...

Christopher, I love your blog -- I've added it to my sidebar and Bloglines account. And your comment is spot-on...thanks for dropping by.

Jeremy said...

Interesting point, Garth. I suppose active philanthropy could give someone a sense of purpose, but just giving money away with getting involved in any other way probably wouldn't be very meaningful to most people.

So it's easy, then! We just need to find our sense of purpose.

: )