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Economist Simon Kuznets is often described as the father of GDP - the man who figured out the deep science behind economic “size”. He won the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences for beating John Maynard Keynes to an accepted interpretation of how we measure, compare and understand economic growth.But even the father of GDP didn't like what it became. Coyle claims that at its birth, Kuznets was arguing in favor of a “sort of holistic sense of economic welfare” and not just a single, limited, corruptible figure.


It’s fitting that in 2019 Kuznets original ideas are returning through big data, delivered through a tech interface and inspired by a disruptive mindset. The Better Life Initiative was launched by the OECD in 2011, built on the idea that macroeconomic statistics, like GDP can’t and won’t tell ordinary working people about the living and working conditions we see and feel.


Carrie Exton leads the OECD’s Monitoring Well-Being and Progress Section, and her job is to create what she describes as a “dashboard of indicators” - people themselves can play with online.It’s a pedant’s dream: if you care about jobs and income–Luxemburg, U.S., Switzerland, Iceland and the U.K rise to the top. Throw a few more variables into play–environment, community, housing–and the U.S. and U.K. plunge, as the small, affluent European countries rise.


Exton sums it up: “If you want to represent the sum of human progress one number just isn't going to cut it”, she says. The reality that we need a variety of different indicators that better reflect our living conditions today.
Exton makes it clear that the end is nigh for GDP as a crude “proxy” for “human progress”. In fact, the OECD point to the fact that GDP obscures a lot of the vital data, ordinary people are keen to see.



For example take income growth–the basic idea that as we work harder and longer, we earn more. The OECD found that over the last decade, the most wealthy top 10% have seen that rise four times more than for the bottom 10%. In short, for every pound in a poor man’s pocket, there’s four for those at the top. But it’s not just money. In 2019 there’s a whole system of concerns orbiting our lives that we need to know about. The OECD acknowledge that GDP ignores the many things people consider to be priceless like health, trust and social connectivity, leisure time. “We can count the money people spend on these things”, Exton adds, “but we can't capture the value of being in good health within the GDP framework.”


But does GDP have any correlation whatsoever to how people feel? If you look at the U.S. and the U.K. two completely contrasting economic stories have played out over the last year, but we seem to end up in a very similar place.In the U.S., President Trump boasted of, and benefited from, the strength and ability of the U.S economy to just power on through—10 years (120 months) of constant growth suggests he might be right. But in reality the growth that’s followed the 2008 Crisis has been slow and low, and there’s a real fear that the U.S. middle classes are neither driving or benefitting from that growth.


While in the U.K–as three gloomy years of Brexit drizzle nears “no-deal” downpour– GDP is expected to grow at 1% (at best).However, despite the divergence in sentiment from those in power, not to mention the wildly contrasting GDP figures, when it comes to “happiness” the U.S. and the U.K. sit alongside one another in18th and 19th respectively–quite considerably below the tiny Republic of Costa Rica not to mention Finland, Norway, Denmark and Iceland at the top of the UN’s World Happiness Report.


There’s a clear reason for this. Another GDP disruptor, Michael Moser from the U.S. Gross National Happiness Genuine Progress Indicator acknowledges a lot of what is wrong with the U.S. runs alongside the rise and rise of its economic fundamentals. In short, America simply can’t GDP the pain away.



Moser adds that “if we use economic indicators alone as proxies for population wellbeing, then policies will remain focused on economies. When we measure human happiness and wellbeing, we are radically changing the paradigm, and focusing attention–and policies to follow, beyond pure economic activity.”


The study took a rather old-school but fundamentally American approach. “We actually called folks up and asked them”, the report confirms a lot of what we already knew: life is tough for many in the U.S. And GDP aside, the report acknowledges an experience whereby about half of all Americans live in low-income situations and/or in poverty; the US infant mortality rate places us 48th in the world (of 193 countries) while according to a 2018 report from the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), nearly 2.2 million adults were held in America's prisons and jails at the end of 2016.


Message déposé le 07.08.2019 à 03:51 - Commentaires (0)




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