What happens if you combine life expectancy and GDP into a single indicator? (You spend more on health)

Just been skimming the overview of last December’s report of the Lancet Global health 2035 Commission, chaired by Larry Summers. The report advocates increasing health spending to close the health gap between countries, but the thing that jumped out at me was the practical application of ‘beyond GDP’ thinking in what the report calls the…

By Duncan Green January 28, 2014 3

Oil spills, prisons and the madness of GDP

“Average national income is a notoriously imperfect measure of the average person’s well-being. The 2010 BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico – with clean-up and damage costs of $90 billion – added about $300 to the average American’s “income.” But it added nothing to our well-being. The world’s most expensive prison system, costing…

By admin July 3, 2013 9

Why do some (better) alternatives to GDP get picked up, while others sink without trace? Useful new study on political economy of indicators.

Took me a while to overcome my reluctance to read a document subtitled ‘Deliverable 1.1’ on the front page (yuk), but I’m glad I did so. The paper ‘Review report on Beyond GDP indicators: categorisation, intentions and impacts’ (cracking title too…..) is published by BRAINPOoL – ‘Bringing Alternative Indicators into Policy’ (is that the sound…

By admin February 5, 2013 2

Joe Stiglitz addresses 'the movement' on well-being v GDP

I’m still surrounded by the world’s statisticians (not as bad as it sounds) at the OECD Measuring the Progress of Societies conference in South Korea, where yesterday Joe Stiglitz gave a great presentation. Rather than simply rehearse the findings of his commission’s report to President Sarkozy, he reflected on why criticisms of GDP, which have…

By admin October 29, 2009 1

How could we measure well-being in a crisis? Some thoughts from Korea

I am currently in Korea’s second city, Busan, attending a big OECD conference on ‘statistics, knowledge and policy’, organized by its ‘Measuring the Progress of Societies’ project. The massive conference centre looks out on a consumerist paradise, including a giant Tesco’s supermarket (everything’s big here, giving you that sense of suddenly having shrunk that you…

By admin October 28, 2009 3

Measuring wellbeing – the latest from UN and OECD. But can Costa Rica, Dominican Republic and Jamaica really be the world's happiest countries?!

The criticisms of GDP as a pretty unreliable measure of well-being have been around for decades, but policy makers persist in using it as a proxy for success, in part because of the lack of credible alternatives. Now there’s an encouraging flurry of international activity at both the UN and OECD that seeks to fill…

By admin August 11, 2009 5