Friday, May 20, 2011

But Are We Well?

Dave Burris in Town Square Delaware joins the chorus of voices calling for an end to using the GDP alone as a measure of our economic health. 

For generations, government officials have measured the state of the state and nation via one statistic: Gross Domestic Product, formerly known as the Gross National Product.

It stood to reason that the greater economic production in our society, the better off everyone would be; the rising tide would lift all boats. And to a point, that proved true. The introduction of indoor plumbing greatly increased quality of life for Americans. As did antibiotics, the computer, and craft beer (okay, maybe that last on did more for me than society at large, but you get the point.)

However, somewhere along the line we reached a place where new innovations and GDP increases failed to bring real increases in quality of life. The iPad 2 did not magically increase quality of life over the iPad 1.

Not only that, but GDP is not a measure of overall well-being. As Dr. Martin Seligman discusses in his book, Flourish, GDP goes up anytime there is a divorce. Or a car crash. Antidepressant use rises, so does GDP. And so on.

Surely, there must be a better way in 2011 to measure the quality of life in our society, incorporating not only economics, but also long-term sustainability and overall well-being.

Read the rest at Town Square Delaware.