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Beyond GDP: Measuring and achieving global genuine progress

Author

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  • Kubiszewski, Ida
  • Costanza, Robert
  • Franco, Carol
  • Lawn, Philip
  • Talberth, John
  • Jackson, Tim
  • Aylmer, Camille

Abstract

While global Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has increased more than three-fold since 1950, economic welfare, as estimated by the Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI), has actually decreased since 1978. We synthesized estimates of GPI over the 1950–2003 time period for 17 countries for which GPI has been estimated. These 17 countries contain 53% of the global population and 59% of the global GDP. We compared GPI with Gross Domestic Product (GDP), Human Development Index (HDI), Ecological Footprint, Biocapacity, Gini coefficient, and Life Satisfaction scores. Results show a significant variation among these countries, but some major trends. We also estimated a global GPI/capita over the 1950–2003 period. Global GPI/capita peaked in 1978, about the same time that global Ecological Footprint exceeded global Biocapacity. Life Satisfaction in almost all countries has also not improved significantly since 1975. Globally, GPI/capita does not increase beyond a GDP/capita of around $7000/capita. If we distributed income more equitably around the planet, the current world GDP ($67trillion/yr) could support 9.6billion people at $7000/capita. While GPI is not the perfect economic welfare indicator, it is a far better approximation than GDP. Development policies need to shift to better account for real welfare and not merely GDP growth.

Suggested Citation

  • Kubiszewski, Ida & Costanza, Robert & Franco, Carol & Lawn, Philip & Talberth, John & Jackson, Tim & Aylmer, Camille, 2013. "Beyond GDP: Measuring and achieving global genuine progress," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 93(C), pages 57-68.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecolec:v:93:y:2013:i:c:p:57-68
    DOI: 10.1016/j.ecolecon.2013.04.019
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    References listed on IDEAS

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