Why GDP is not a perfect measure of well being

The article ”We shouldn ” T justice well-being by GDP entirely ” gives a clear image about GDP is non a perfect measuring of wellbeing. Roughly, the article outlines how GDP step has become become the de facto step of national public assistance among a scope of economic indexs, its restrictions and defects as step of national well-being, the effects brought with the flawed measuring and the effort of switching in accent from economic production to mensurating people ” s wellbeing together with sustainability.

GDP step consists of three signifiers of economic activity over a period, typically one twelvemonth, which are the value of goods and services produced, the entire incomes generated from that production and the entire spent on goods and services, plus exports and subtraction imports. It is merely a statistic but it does act upon the whole manner we run the state and even universe. It can be proved when the Reserve Bank decides whether to raise or lower involvement rates, none of economic indexs is more of import than the quarterly GDP figures. GDP has besides become the de facto step of national public assistance when authorities is bordering its one-year budget.

GDP will mensurate the autumn in production from farms, mines and concern and the loss of income to persons, nevertheless, will non capture any impact of catastrophes: the loss in value to concern and substructure. This shows restriction of it as measuring of wellbeing. And normally, alterations in income, which the quarterly GDP steps do non travel with alterations in wealth in same way. Increase in GDP may be influenced by rising prices but non the rise of wealth since GDP step value of entire production.

GDP step does non include so many things that do non hold pecuniary value attached to it. It tend to go forth out most non-market activities like the broader societal importance of voluntary work done by household members or unpaid assistants which non included in GDP. Neither the cost of consuming natural resources nor the wellness of kids, the quality of instruction or the strength of matrimony is being taken in GDP step. Another position is that failings in the statistics were grounds the planetary fiscal crisis took most by surprise. GDP figures with those all defects will give a deformed image of what is go oning in the economic system.

A displacement in accent from economic production to mensurating people ” s well-being, together with sustainability, utilizing a ”dashboard ” of indexs, instead than a individual step has been recommended. To exemplify, this attack has been adopted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, seting out an one-year publication, Measures of Australia ” s Progress, since 2002 to supply a broader reading on whether life is acquiring better.

As Albert Einstein put it, ”not everything that counts can be counted and non everything that can be counted counts ” .


Economists measure entire production by gross domestic merchandise ( GDP ) . GDP is the market value of all concluding goods and services produced in a state during a period of clip, typically one twelvemonth. GDP is a cardinal construct in macroeconomics, so we need to see its definition carefully.

GDP is measured utilizing market values, non measures. The word value is of import in the definition of GDP. In microeconomics, we measure production in measure footings: the figure of places produced, the frequence figure of services provided and so on. When we measure production in economic system, we can non merely add together the measures of all goods and services because the consequence would be a meaningless jumble. Alternatively, we measure production by taking the value, in pecuniary term, of all the goods and services produced.

GDP includes merely the market value of concluding goods. We include merely the value of concluding goods in the computation of GDP. A concluding good or service is a good and service purchased by it concluding user and non to be included in the production of any other good or service. A good or service that is an input into another good or service is known as intermediate good or service. For illustration, flour pulverization bought by a homemaker is a concluding good while flour pulverization bought by baker is intermediate good. Therefore, there is of import to hold it clarified good whether a good or service is concluding good or intermediate good. If we included the value of intermediate good or service, it would be dual numeration.

GDP includes merely current production. GDP includes merely production ( goods and services produced ) that takes topographic point during the indicated clip period. In peculiar, GDP does non include the value of used goods.

Components of GDP

Equation for GDP: Y = C + I + G + NX

GDP is made up by 5 elements. They are consumption outgos, investing, authorities purchases and net exports. Consumption outgos are the disbursement made by families on goods and services, non including passing on new house. Investing is the disbursement by houses on new mills, office edifices, machinery, and add-ons to stock lists, plus disbursement by families and houses on new houses. Government purchases are the disbursement by federal, province, and local authoritiess on goods and services. Net exports are exports minus imports.

Three Approachs to mensurate GDP

There are three attacks to mensurating GDP: outgos approach, income attack and value-added attack.

1. Outgos Approach

The entire disbursement on all concluding goods and services ( Consumption ( C ) + Gross Investments ( I ) + Government Purchases ( G ) + ( Exports ( X ) – Imports ( M ) )

GDP = C + I + G + ( X-M )

2. Income Approach ( NI = National Income )

Using the Income Approach, GDP is calculated by adding up the factor incomes to the factors of production in the society. These include

National Income ( NI ) + Indirect Business Taxes ( IBT ) + Depreciation ( D )

In this attack,

NI = Labor Income ( W ) + Rental Income ( R ) + Interest Income ( I ) + Profits ( PR )

3. Value added Approach

Value added, which is the extra market value a house gives to a merchandise, is totaled up to cipher the value of GDP.

2.1 Reasons why GDP is non a perfect step of GDP

Figure 1: Elementss of Well-Being

( Beginning: Deutsche Bank Research, 2007 )

2.11 GDP

GDP is the market value of all concluding goods and services produced in a state during a given period typically one twelvemonth. It is widely used to mensurate an economic system ” s public presentation. Nevertheless, GDP merely includes value of ingestion and net investing.

Catastrophes can raise GDP

Natural catastrophe has causes impact on human lives. GDP ignores the cost of destruction-ruined places, wrecked autos, roads and rail lines washed off, concerns composing off 1000000s of dollars of stock. Reconstruction after catastrophe or war can greatly hike GDP.

2.12 Economic Wellbeing

Economic wellbeing is defined as the quality of populating criterion and the province of health of a state. It has a wider scope than GDP. We can detect from figure 1 that economic wellbeing includes parts of GDP, leisure, wealth, belowground activity. Economic wellbeing besides includes unemployment and insecurity which may cut down economic wellbeing.

Underground Economy

Individual and houses tend to hide the purchasing and merchandising of belowground economic system as this production is non counted in GDP. GDP merely include minutess that pass through market with market monetary value. The grounds of conciliation is belowground economic system are covering with illegal activities like gaming, smuggling, robbery and harlotry. Individual and houses would wish to avoid paying revenue enhancements for the income earned and besides avoid themselves from authorities ordinances.

Volunteer and household work

Voluntary work such as those done by household members or unpaid assistants, like kid minding, housekeeping, child care and attention for the aged and the ailment have an impact on public assistance, nevertheless it is non counted in GDP. If unpaid work were to acquire paid and is included in GDP, GDP will reflect higher value.


Leisure can be said to increase people ” s public assistance. However, there ” s an ”opportunity cost ” arise from leisure which is the doomed of addition in GDP. If the on the job hours of employee are reduced by an add-on in increasing ill foliages, insouciant foliages, it brings alleviation in people life. The leisure had improved the employee ” s public presentation by working less but unfortunately leisure is non counted in GDP.


An addition in engineering does non reflect in the value of GDP as it merely reflects the value of the terminal merchandise.

2.13 Living Conditionss

Populating conditions includes non-material facets such as the province of environment, wellness, life anticipation, instruction and the province of the environment.

Environmental outwardnesss and depletion of natural resources

Dirty H2O, chemicals and noise came from the mills will present negative impact on homo. It affects the wellbeing of single and cut down the mean age bound of human existences. GDP ignores the negative impact on environment and human life. When the money is spent on cleansing pollution, this increases GDP. Additional use of gasoline caused by traffic jams could increase GDP while cut downing the quality of life. As GDP does non enter the alterations in the implicit in capital, the impairment of capital will maintain unnoticed for a long clip.


The wellness conditions of societies are merely reflected in the addition in costs of wellness system through GDP. A more expensive wellness attention system will increase the value of GDP. High income besides does non reflect the wellness status of an person. A more advanced technique in wellness attention system which causes life-expectancy, inefficiency, life styles and bar is non reflected in GDP. The cost and benefits from wellness is difficult to place in GDP.

Inequality ( Composition and Distribution of Output )

GDP merely measures the size of the pie but non how the pie is divided up. When a state ” s GDP additions, this means that the state has more goods and merchandises, nevertheless those goods may be unevenly distributed as GDP do non supply the composings of merchandises consumed by a typical individual.

Crime and Family Breakdown

Although an addition in offense may increase GDP, it reduces wellbeing. This is because it will leads to greater passing on constabularies, security guards, and alarm systems. However, it is non adjusted for amendss to belongings or attorneies who manage divorces, drug dependence and household dislocation.

2.14 Happiness

Happiness is determined by household, activities, friends, work satisfaction and community ties. It is the concluding end to be achieved to guarantee economic wellbeing. Income is non emphasized in the felicity. Happiness encompasses living conditions, economic wellbeing and GDP. The income of families does non bespeak the felicity. Higher GDP do non vouch persons are happy and contented. Therefore, understanding the elements of wellbeing will do it easier to understand the pick of persons and policymakers.

2.2 Suggestion: Use other indexs to mensurate well-being

Different people may hold different position on the facet to better the wellbeing. An economic expert should non mensurate the wellbeing based on one dimension which is to the full depict the economic public assistance by merely utilizing GDP. They should develop and use multiple statistics or indexs to depict the assorted facets of economic wellbeing.

In order to mensurate well-being, many different indexs are developed and applied by many histrions such as international organisations ( World Bank, UNDP ) , statistical offices ( Eurostat, Destatis ) , civil-society organisations and runs ( Sbilanciamoci! ) or independent think-tanks ( new economic sciences foundation, Redefining Progress ) . These indexs can be grouped into three different classs: adjusting, replacing and supplementing GDP.

2.21 Indexs ‘adjusting GDP ‘

Indexs ‘adjusting GDP ‘ adjust GDP to integrate a assortment of economic, societal or environmental factors which are non included in the conventional step ( Jackson et al.,2005 ) .

Measure of Economic Welfare ( MEW ) by Nordhaus and Tobin is a step that shows ingestion instead than production. This index adjusts for some of the ”bads ” and ”regrettables ” and adds some nonmarket activities into this step.

Daly-Cobb Index of Sustainable Economic Welfare ( ISEW ) and Genuine Progress Indicator ( GPI ) are indexs that take into history the links between environment, economic system and society. But, GPI besides consider the elements such as offense, divorce, unemployment and alterations in leisure clip in its computation.

Other indexs are Green GDP and Genuine nest eggs. Green GDP incorporates the environmental effects of economic growing, including the depletion of natural resources and debasement of the environment. Whereas, Genuine savings is a step of net investing ( ‘true nest eggs ‘ ) in produced, natural and human capital.

2.22 Indexs ‘replacing ‘ GDP

The indexs that try to mensurate wellbeing more straight than GDP are Human development index ( HDI ) , Gender-related Development Index ( GDI ) , Ecological Footprint ( EF ) , Happy Planet Index ( HPI ) , Environmental Sustainability Index ( ESI ) and Regional Quality of Development Index ( QUARS ) .

Human development index ( HDI ) is a composite index that combines the degrees of life anticipation, instruction and GDP to mensurate human development. Similar to HDI, the Gender-related Development Index ( GDI ) incorporates societal issues such as length of service and cognition. But, GDI besides takes note of inequalities between two genders ( male and female ) .

The Ecological Footprint ( EF ) measures the extent to which the ecological demand of human economic systems stays within or exceeds the capacity of the biosphere for the supply of goods and services. Happy Planet Index ( HPI ) is an index of human wellbeing and environmental impact that incorporates the information on life anticipation, studies on life satisfaction and the ingestion of natural resources.

Environmental Sustainability Index ( ESI ) tracks a diverse set of socioeconomic, environmental, and institutional indexs that characterize and affect environmental sustainability at the national graduated table.

Regional Quality of Development Index ( QUARS ) is an index of variables that represent different dimensions of quality of development.

2.23 Indexs ‘supplementing ‘ GDP

The indexs that can function as a complement to GDP are System of Economic Environmental Accounts ( SEEA ) , National Accounting Matrix including Environmental Histories ( NAMEA ) , German Environmental Economic Accounting ( GEEA ) , System of Economic and Social Accounting matrices and Extensions ( SESAME ) . By utilizing one of them, GDP is non adjusted or replaced by making new indexs but complemented with extra environmental and/or societal information.

3.0 Decision

GDP is a simple index. It can be used to cipher many relevant economic steps. For illustration, measures revenue enhancement grosss and productiveness. It besides helps estimates the end product spreads and rising prices. Therefore, it is widely used to mensurate an economic system ” s public presentation.

However, GDP is merely a ”gross ” construct. It includes depreciation or the replacing of depreciated capital. However, the depreciation will non convey benefits to human. Replacement of the physical capital merely brings the economic system back to the beginning. Besides that, it measures the entire merchandise produced in a state, but does non mensurate the entire income received by the people in state. Some of the income included in GDP may bring forth by and travel to aliens.

There is a strong correlativity between GDP degrees and constituents of basic public assistance such as high literacy rates, better nutrition and wellness attention, communications engineering and life anticipation. Nevertheless, the positive correlativity between public assistance and GDP is conditional. Other than that, wellbeing is influenced by many other facets. Non-economic facets such as good wellness and instruction, a clean environment and safe streets are besides contributed to persons ” overall wellbeing.

Therefore, GDP is still deficient in mensurating wellbeing. Economists should non trust merely on GDP to mensurate well-being. They should utilize other indexs to mensurate well-being in different dimensions.