Sunday, January 31, 2010

GDP, GNP, and Quality of Life

It seems to me that measuring national progress against the benchmarks of GDP or GNP is, while not entirely unjustified, somewhat misguided. How does one benefit as a result of such increases in GDP or GNP? It is quite an abstract measure, but perhaps some might defend these queer yardsticks by claiming, "If GDP/GNP increases, this likely means that my income has increased!". Even if such a statement is true (which it may not be), I ask, "So what? How is that good?".

The subtext is, of course, that an income increase is good as it raises one's quality of life. But that raises a question- why not simply use the quality of life as a direct measure of national progress!

We of the modern age run the risk of mistaking financial strength as a core good. It is not; obviously our quality of life is by far the most important. Admittedly, GDP and GNP may be somewhat indicative of the average quality of life in a country, but this is at best a coarse measure. We ought not to focus on increasing GDP and GNP while losing sight of the true goal, which is to raise our quality of life. By concentrating on the wrong measures of progress, we are confounding ourselves, and exposing ourselves to a life of wealthy misery.

1 comment:

Benedict said...

It is possible to try a Yi Shi Ge Jue stance. Spendid isolation, resulting in GDP and GNP of 0, while maintaining high happiness.