Saturday 1st October 2016                 Change text size:

Green Party challenges GDP as sole indicator of prosperity



calculator money - Images of Money via Flickr

The Green Party has labelled the use of GDP as a sole measure of indicating prosperity as “very flawed”, and has argued for other factors, such as resource depletion and health, to be considered.

According to the Guardian, Caroline Lucas, Green MP for Brighton, said, “I don’t think it’s unreasonable to say that – at the very least to begin with – alongside GDP, we might also begin to have a measure of depletion of resources. Once people get more used to that, you can imagine bringing in two or three more indicators: health, community cohesion, equality and so on.”

She continued to argue that whilst GDP takes many factors into account it is a “very flawed measure” because it focuses on money within an economy and not whether the money is being used to good or bad ends.

“The Green vision recognises that there are some things that need to grow – we certainly want to see growth in environmental technologies, for example – but we’re challenging growth, scrutinising it,” Lucas added.

Other individuals and organisations have also pointed out that whilst GDP can be a valuable indicator, on its own it cannot give a full picture of a country’s progress. The Worldwatch Institute described solely using GDP as “woefully inadequate” in a report last year, arguing that the metric ignores the planet’s ability to provide the resources necessary to sustain continued economic growth.

The report pointed out that in 2012 GDP across all countries increased by almost 5% on the previous year, suggesting that the effects of the 2008 financial crisis had somewhat passed, yet other indicators, such as unemployment levels, suggested this was not the case. The institute called for a “more encompassing, holistic, and meaningful metric”.

Academic and author Victor Anderson also described a reissue of his 1991 book, which outlined the need for alternative measures of economic success and failure, as depressing” because it demonstrated how little progress has been made.

Photo: Images of Money via Flickr 

Further reading:

Economic growth indicators to be debated by ICAEW

Reissue of 1991 book on economic growth indicators ‘depressing’, says author

‘Happiness and wellbeing’ should be our top priority, not economic growth

Economic growth ‘not automatically’ linked with social progress

GDP ‘woefully inadequate’ as sole measure of economic health


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