GDP should be scrapped, says Sarkozy

| 15th September 2009
An old couple on a park bench

'Green seniors' want to be more involved in environmental issues

A measurement of progress should include personal well-being, say critics

Economic growth is destroying more than it is creating, argues the French president as he calls for a new measure of national wealth
 

The French president Nicolas Sarkozy has backed a report which urges governments to stop using GDP as the primary measure of progress.

The report from a group of economists said gross domestic product was treated too often as the only statistic worth focusing on.

'GDP statistics were introduced to measure market economic activity. But they are increasingly thought of as a measure of societal well-being, which they are not,' the report's authors wrote.

Sarkozy, who commissioned the report in 2008, said GDP ignored other factors vital to the well-being.

'For years statistics have registered an increasingly strong economic growth as a victory over shortage until it emerged that this growth was destroying more than it was creating,' he said.

Well-being

The report does not propose a new measurement but suggests adjusting GDP to include environmental metrics and measures of well-being and happiness.

Critics worry this lack of definition will mean GDP will, for the most part, continue to be the dominant measure.

'Because well-being is not clearly defined in the report there is a risk that people will take different meanings,' said New Economics Foundation (NEF) researcher Saamah Abdallah.

'A proper measurement is about more than just health and education. You actually need to go out and measure [people's] well-being, whether they are happy with their social relationships and life. That level of psychological well-being was not covered in the report,' he said.

Earlier this year, the NEF proposed an alternative measurement of progress in their report, National Accounts of Well-Being.

Useful links

National Accounts of Well-being
The Commission's report

See also

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