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Abolishing GDP

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  • Jeroen C.J.M. van den Bergh

    () (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam & Autonomous University Barcelona)

Abstract

Expectations and information about the growth of GDP per capita have a large influence on decisions made by private and public economic agents. It will be argued here that GDP (per capita) is far from a robust indicator of social welfare, and that its use as such must be regarded as a serious form of market and government failure. This article presents an update on the most important criticisms of GDP as an indicator of social welfare and economic progress. It further examines the nature and extent of the impact of GDP information on the economy, revisits the customary arguments in favour of the GDP indicator, and critically evaluates proposed alternatives to GDP. The main conclusion is that it is rational to dismiss GDP as an indicator to monitor economic progress and to guide public policy. As is clarified, this conclusion does not imply a plea against growth, innovation or national accounting.

Suggested Citation

  • Jeroen C.J.M. van den Bergh, 2007. "Abolishing GDP," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 07-019/3, Tinbergen Institute.
  • Handle: RePEc:tin:wpaper:20070019
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Bleys, Brent & Whitby, Alistair, 2015. "Barriers and opportunities for alternative measures of economic welfare," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 117(C), pages 162-172.
    2. Van de Kerk, Geurt & Manuel, Arthur R., 2008. "A comprehensive index for a sustainable society: The SSI -- the Sustainable Society Index," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 66(2-3), pages 228-242, June.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Distribution; externalities; genuine savings; happiness; HDI; informal sector; ISEW; status goods;

    JEL classification:

    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • E01 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - General - - - Measurement and Data on National Income and Product Accounts and Wealth; Environmental Accounts
    • I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General Welfare, Well-Being
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration

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