Dethroning GDP: Advancing New Measures for a New Economy

As it becomes increasingly clear that GDP is a deeply flawed measurement tool, alternative ways to measure our economy must be developed to ensure we’re measuring what we truly care about.

About the Discussion

It has become clear that the US' obsession with 'growth' is creating more waste, useless goods, and extensive environmental damage. So why is 'growth' actually resulting in the destruction of our communities and planet? Our problems are rooted in how mainstream economics and policy-makers actually define growth. While true growth may be the strengthening of communities, the reformation of our relationship with the planet, and the expansion of opportunity to all, growth is currently defined as an increase in the Gross Domestic Product, or the number of goods and services we produce annually. Therefore, the production of more goods used to clean polluted water, the provision of more medical services to treat conditions caused by pollution and unsustainable food production, and the increase in production of missiles or bombs all count as 'growth' even though it is clear no one is truly better of because of these types of production.

This NET session delves into both the problems with measuring growth in terms of GDP and alternative statistics being used to measure growth. The session is lead by Lew Daly, from Demos, and Gus Speth, distinguished fellow at Demos and former Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme. Professor Alex C. Michalos presents on the Canadian Index of Wellbeing, followed by a presentation on the Maryland Genuine Progress Indicator by Sean McGuire of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and John Talberth of the World Resources Institute. John Cavanagh, director of the Institute for Policy Studies, moderates the discussion. 

Suggested Background Readings

America the Possible by Gus Speth

Beyond GDP: New Measures for a New Economy by Lew Daly and Stephen Posner

Information on Living Wealth Indicators, in particular the Genuine Progress Project 

Beyond GDP: The Context for Change by Lew Daly

Excerpt of “How are Canadians Really Doing”

An Approach to the Canadian Index of Wellbeing, a report of the Canadian Index of Wellbeing (CIW)

YouTube Playlist



The Minutes for this NET Session

These minutes (PDF) contain not only the presentations shown in the main video above, but also question and answer sessions that took place throughout the session.  

Additional Resources

The Story of Solutions, a video by Annie Leonard

More on the Maryland GPI 

The 2006 GPI Report

The Spirit Level: Why Greater Equality Makes Societies Stronger by Wilkinson and Pickett (mentioned by Gus Speth)

Mismeasuring Our Lives by Joseph E. Stiglitz, Amartya Sen, and Jean-Pual Fitoussi

The Happy Planet Index by New Economics Foundation

Report by the Commission on the Measurement of Economic Performance and Social Progress by Joseph E. Stiglitz, Amartya Sen, and Jean-Paul Fitoussi

Beyond GDP, an initiative by the European Commission

Beyond GDP: The Need for New Measures of Progress, a paper by Robert Costanza, Maureen Hart, Stephen Posner, and John Talberth

Gross Domestic Problem by Lorenzo Fioramonti

The 2010 Human Development Report mentioned by John Cavanagh

The 2013 HDR, and more on the Human Development Index 

The US human development report, called the Measure of America (mentioned by Gus Speth)

Brave New Math by Peter Marber

Additional books, videos, and articles here 

For questions and comments, see the forum for this NET Session

                                                             Part of the NET Discussion series