GDP (Gross Domestic Product): “Measures everything except that which makes life worthwhile,” John F. Kennedy pointed out back in 1968.
So why does GDP still have such a hold on our society? Why are we unable to shift our focus at the societal level more strongly towards that which makes our lives worthwhile? How could we re-define wealth and progress in terms of holistic wellbeing, rather than continuing the current obsession with GDP? These are some of the questions to be explored by Professor Lorenzo Fioramonti and Martin Whitlock, at an event – titled The Republic of Wellbeing? Life Beyond GDP! – being held at Totnes Methodist Church from 7.45pm on Thursday 4th February.
Beyond GDP, Towards Wellbeing
As Lorenzo Fioramonti has previously highlighted on NOW’s blog, “traditionally our societies have pursued a narrow definition of economic growth as a means to attain development. Over time, the means has become an end in itself… How we currently measure this process needs to be changed, to move beyond the limits of GDP”.
“We need to be much more focused on trying to achieve the things in the economy we really want, rather than focusing on anything that will generate money activity, irrespective of whether it’s damaging or positive in terms of the environment, in terms of our health, in terms of wellbeing”, says Martin Whitlock.
Evidence suggests that increasing money wealth beyond a certain point does not improve human wellbeing, while rising GDP is so unevenly spread that many people miss out on its financial benefits. Meanwhile, pursuing GDP as a goal in itself leads to activities that pollute and damage the natural ecosystems that are so vital for people’s wellbeing.
Here at the Network of Wellbeing we believe that economic growth (measured through higher GDP) is not the most appropriate measure to reflect societal progress and development and should not be the overarching goal of economic policy. Instead, policy makers should aim to shape society and measure societal progress in ways that enable everyone’s wellbeing to be improved while the Earth’s natural limits are respected.
We look forward to welcoming Lorenzo and Martin to explore these important issues further.
About the Speakers and the Event
Lorenzo Fioramonti is Professor of Political Economy at the University of Pretoria and the Director of the Centre for the Study of Governance Innovation. The author of Gross Domestic Problem: The Politics Behind the World’s Most Powerful Number, he is a global thought leader in the development of the Wellbeing Economy and the Beyond-GDP movement. He is co-founder of Stop-GDP.org.
Martin Whitlock is a writer and campaigner, and also a co-founder of Stop-GDP.org. He is the author of Human Politics : Human Value, a detailed critique of the GDP economy and the political, social and economic harms that it causes.
We will be co-hosting this event together with the Totnes REconomy Project.
If you’d like to share ideas / updates about this event on Twitter, then please use the hash tag #StopGDP.