Underreported: The New French GDP

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Earlier this week French President Nicolas Sarkozy announced that his country would now be taking happiness and well-being into account when it calculates its Gross Domestic Product. Ben Hall Paris correspondent for the Financial Times explains how this change will affect France’s GDP and why the country is urging other nations to adopt its new formula.


Ben Hall

Comments [4]

Phil Henshaw from Washington Hts

There is enormous value in both understanding what a number like GDP measures, and having it directly measure things that matter to us. There's also a big value to having it measure what matters to the real operating parts of the natural systems we're part of. That oddly has and remains of remarkably little interest or concern to people.

So, I don't think GDP shouldn't be relied on exclusively for both reasons, since it is just a measure of money with no particular relation to whether we or the earth are getting their "money's worth", as it were. There's also a great value in having measures that mean the same thing all the time, though, so you can reliably track changes in them and know what is changing.

The solution is to 1)help people understand what GDP measures, but not to mess with the definition, and 2) to develop other well studied measures of whether people and the earth are "getting their money's worth"

... at least from a natural systems scientist's point of view, those are the kinds of measures that help you understand complex natural systems and the meaning of your choices.

Sep. 17 2009 02:04 PM
Nancy from Brooklyn

Sarko is French, after all, and a French "conservative" would be condemned as a "socialist" here (as would his finance minister). Perhaps he's also softening under the influence of the more liberal Carla. Perhaps he's merely come to his senses.

Sep. 17 2009 01:57 PM

The GDP national accounting system is but a symptom of deep problems with values. It is an expression of materialism, which is in turn intimately linked with productivism and industrialism. We won't go far enough tackling the symptoms without getting to the pathology itself.

Sep. 17 2009 01:56 PM
Veronica from Mannahatta

I believe the country of Bhutan has a guiding philosophy of Gross National Happiness (GNH).

Sep. 17 2009 12:10 PM

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