IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

GDP, Wellbeing, and Health: Thoughts on the 2017 Round of the International Comparison Program


  • Angus Deaton
  • Paul Schreyer


In March 2020, the International Comparison Project published its latest results, for the calendar year 2017. This round presents common-unit or purchasing-power-parity data for 137 countries on Gross Domestic Product and its components. We review a number of important issues, what is new, what is not new, and what the new data can and cannot do. Of great importance is the lack of news, that the results are broadly in line with earlier results from 2011. We consider the relationship between national accounts measures and health, particularly in light of the COVID-19 epidemic which may reduce global inequality, even as it increases inequality within countries. We emphasize things that GDP cannot do, some familiar—like its silence on distribution—and some less familiar—including its increasing detachment from national material wellbeing in a globalized world where international transfers of capital and property rights can have enormous effects on GDP, such as the 26 percent increase in Ireland’s GDP in 2015.

Suggested Citation

  • Angus Deaton & Paul Schreyer, 2020. "GDP, Wellbeing, and Health: Thoughts on the 2017 Round of the International Comparison Program," NBER Working Papers 28177, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:28177
    Note: DEV EFG HE IFM

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Access to the full text is generally limited to series subscribers, however if the top level domain of the client browser is in a developing country or transition economy free access is provided. More information about subscriptions and free access is available at Free access is also available to older working papers.

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Diewert, Erwin, 2019. "Measuring the Services of Durables and Owner Occupied Housing," working papers erwin_diewert-2019-5, Vancouver School of Economics, revised 21 Mar 2019.
    2. Fleurbaey, Marc & Blanchet, Didier, 2013. "Beyond GDP: Measuring Welfare and Assessing Sustainability," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199767199.
    3. Robert Inklaar & D. S. Prasada Rao, 2017. "Cross-Country Income Levels over Time: Did the Developing World Suddenly Become Much Richer?," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 9(1), pages 265-290, January.
    4. Dale W. Jorgenson, 2018. "Production and Welfare: Progress in Economic Measurement," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 56(3), pages 867-919, September.
    5. Angus Deaton & Bettina Aten, 2017. "Trying to Understand the PPPs in ICP 2011: Why Are the Results So Different?," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 9(1), pages 243-264, January.
    6. J. Vernon Henderson & Adam Storeygard & David N. Weil, 2012. "Measuring Economic Growth from Outer Space," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(2), pages 994-1028, April.
    7. H. Krijnse Locker & H. D. Faerber, 1984. "Space And Time Comparisons Of Purchasing Power Parities And Real Values," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 30(1), pages 53-83, March.
    8. Aziz Atamanov & Christoph Lakner & Daniel Gerszon Mahler & Samuel Kofi Tetteh Baah & Judy Yang, 2020. "The Effect of New PPP Estimates on Global Poverty: A First Look," Global Poverty Monitoring Technical Note Series 12, The World Bank.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E01 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - General - - - Measurement and Data on National Income and Product Accounts and Wealth; Environmental Accounts
    • F10 - International Economics - - Trade - - - General
    • F62 - International Economics - - Economic Impacts of Globalization - - - Macroeconomic Impacts
    • I15 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health and Economic Development
    • I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General Welfare, Well-Being
    • P22 - Economic Systems - - Socialist Systems and Transition Economies - - - Prices
    • Y1 - Miscellaneous Categories - - Data: Tables and Charts


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:28177. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.