GDP and The Good Life

How do we know if we are making progress/ moving in the right direction?


The modern indicator of a society’s success

     -GDP is the market value of everything produced within a country
     -GNP is the value of what’s produced by a country’s residents no matter where they live.
     -These indicators are based solely on the sum total of goods and sales
           -do not account for the externalities that accompany a product’s creation

      -Because these factors are not accounted for in the estimate,

                the GNP is a value free indicator of progress

      GNP does not truly represent the actual success or sustainability of a country,
            its growth in one form of valuation metric.


If the economy prospers at the expense of environmental quality, then it is inaccurate to measure the success of the country by its economic growth: Success is related to quality of life for all members of the community.

Ecological Lesson:

                In nature, growth limiters are the insurance policy

                                against reduction in quality of life for the whole of the population

 Economic Lesson:

Human technology has moved the species beyond carrying capacity and defy natural limiting factors

                – Humans must rely on their technologies to ensure QOL  is sustained for all people and future generations.


Problem with current relationship between environment and economy:

GDP/GNP are often referred to as bearing responsibility for the average citizen’s chance at the good life. It is the current metric for success in economic arenas. The GDP not only gives false hope or description that society is doing great, but it also inhibits people from other mechanisms that could more truly define success as it pertains to the daily life of people. Utopia is not an unrealistic dream in the ether. Nature is heaven on earth. Living today and seeking real ways that today can be the day the new technology is invented or the new way



what other possible valuation schema could tackle this problem?

Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI)

Environmental Economist Herman Daly developed the Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI)

  -subtracts all the negative environmental externalities from the GNP.

In this model, instead of growth, quality of life has arisen as the new factor for modeling and verifying societal success.





Gross National Happiness (GNH) in Bhutan

  5 major categores

  – material and spiritual foundations of a nation – includes promotion of sustainable development – cultural values – natural environment – good governance





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