The Steev (seregost) wrote,
The Steev

Genuine Progress Indicator

The GPI, which has long been an important factor in environmentalism, is an effort to measure the *true* progress of a society. Since the Great Depression, our government has become increasingly reliant on the GDP metric as a measure of economic wellbeing. According to this metric, the United States is currently prospering like it has never before... Does that assertion honestly seem intuitive to most of you???

Even the inventors of the GDP metric never claimed it was a truly accurate indicator of human well-being. It is just a convenient and easy metric of social productivity (particularly useful in war-time).

Unlike the GDP, the GPI does not consider things such as environmental disasters and pollution as beneficial. For example, the Exxon Valdez disaster and Katrina both caused a marked *increase* in GDP. GDP also ignores such factors as skewed income distribution, national debt and non-market activities (such as stay-at-home parents). Crucially, any non-market work (charity,community,childcare) is considered literally valueless.

All these factors are why there is (in my opinion) such a stark contrast between the supposed macro-level economic recovery of the 2002-2006 time-frame, and what we as citizens are actually seeing in the trenches.

While the GPI is a more complex and less clearly defined metric than GDP, it is useful to look at some basic attempts at defining it - keeping in mind that certain aspects of the metric are obviously still subject to personal views.

This site has a basic graph of GDP to GPI that demonstrates the gist of the assertion. Essentially, there can be (and possibly has been) a simultaneous rise in GDP and a decrease in GPI. I personally think the GPI index more accurately represents the world-view of the average citizen.

In a nutshell, we as scientists may be to blame for putting too much emphasis on an incomplete metric!
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