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Mismeasuring Our Lives: Why GDP Doesn't Add Up Paperback – May 18, 2010
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About the Author
Amartya Sen is Lamont University Professor at Harvard University.
Top Customer Reviews
"Mismeasuring Our Lives" tells us, in clear, concise and non-technical language why GDP is a problematic measure, what other measurements we should use or develop, and why this is so important for all citizens to understand. The book is the report of a commission called together by French president Nicolas Sarkozy. The lead authors, who convened a broad and distinguished international panel of experts, are the Nobel Prize-winning economists Joseph Stiglitz and Amartya Sen, along with Jean-Paul Fitoussi, head of the French center for economic research. They begin by pointing out how much economic activity GDP leaves out, such as the work of a stay-at-home parent or the full benefit of government-provided health care. And GDP can be misleading: rising national output can still leave behind middle and low earners; China, despite authoritarian rule, can appear to be a "better" society than democratic India, if you just look at GDP per capita; France, with more guaranteed vacation time for workers, rates lower than the frenetic U.S.; selling more expensive, gas-guzzling SUVs raises GDP, but at the cost of raising global temperatures and reducing oil reserves.Read more ›
"Mismeasuring Our Lives" makes the problems of GDP clear. GDP is not necessarily a bad statistic, but its limitations must be kept in mind. GDP is not a measure of prosperity, or of quality of life. GDP says nothing whatever about sustainability. The authors' main point is that when making policy decisions, GDP should never be the only consideration. (Similarly, a checking account balance is useful for determining the prosperity of a household. However, to avoid bankruptcy it is wise to also consider such things as income, expenses, and savings. Paying attention to the checking account balance and nothing else can be seriously misleading.)
The book contains a discussion of adjustments to GDP to make it more useful. There's also a chapter on measuring sustainability. I thought this was fine as far as it went. I was disappointed that nothing was said about Herman Daly's three laws of sustainability. These are: (1) Renewable resources such as fish, soil, and groundwater must be used no faster than the rate at which they regenerate.Read more ›
The Foreword is written by the remarkably perceptive president Sarkozy, who explains his motivations and intentions. Combining keen intelligence with a vision for a more humane and sustainable future, president Sarkozy explains why the blunt instrument of GDP has deluded us into making poor policy choices based on short-term interests. President Sarkozy passionately believes that more sophisticated methodologies are necessary in how we collect and act upon data if we hope to pursue strategies that are meant to improve humanity's collective well-being now and into the future.
The report includes a Preface authored by the commission's lead economists (Amrtya Sen, Joseph Stiglitz and Jean-Paul Fitoussi); an executive summary; three sections (Classical GDP Issues, Quality of Life, and Sustainable Development and Environment); and notes. Graphs and charts are interspersed throughout to illustrate key points. While the committee's report frequently uses the kind of dry and/or qualified language that one might expect, its power is undeniable: the authors have succeeded in sketching out a new paradigm that puts people and the environment on equal footing with corporate profits.
As the world brought to us by neoliberal economics crumbles around us, it is critical that president Sarkozy's project gains attention. I highly recommend this important book to educators, policy makers, activists and concerned citizens everywhere.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Inspiring. Written for those who look for real solutions. Not for those who want quick fixed and talking points.Published 14 months ago by K P C
While it was dense, it wasn't meant to be something light. Very informative.Published 21 months ago by Daniel Scheinhaus
This book was difficult at times. Not technically, but I really couldn't buy in to why the report was written. Ok so yes GDP by itself isn't a measure of happiness. Read morePublished 22 months ago by Derek Zweig
outstanding, a must read for anyone interested in the real meaning of economic growth and progress.Published 23 months ago by shirley
It explains why there's so much grief about economic growth numbers: whenever they're announced, people always say they don't know where the growth is going, they're not feeling... Read morePublished on June 10, 2014 by firehorse18
A very very interesting reading which gave me a lot of knowledge and a lot to think of. is there anyone in the World from the people that deal with strategies and growth in general... Read morePublished on November 6, 2013 by Jurij Kobal
This book commissioned by ex president of France deals with alternative measures of "goodness" by which a country could judge the success of its policies. Read morePublished on October 27, 2013 by phlopz
Full Reference: Joseph E. Stiglitz, Amartya Sen, Jean-Paul Fitoussi (2010) "Mismeasuring Our Lives: Why GDP doesn't add up/ The report by the commission on the measurement of... Read morePublished on September 15, 2013 by DavidMills