Beyond GDP: Measuring and achieving global genuine progress

Ida Kubiszewski*, Robert Costanza, Carol Franco, Philip Lawn, John Talberth, Tim Jackson, Camille Aylmer

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    517 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    While global Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has increased more than three-fold since 1950, economic welfare, as estimated by the Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI), has actually decreased since 1978. We synthesized estimates of GPI over the 1950-2003 time period for 17 countries for which GPI has been estimated. These 17 countries contain 53% of the global population and 59% of the global GDP. We compared GPI with Gross Domestic Product (GDP), Human Development Index (HDI), Ecological Footprint, Biocapacity, Gini coefficient, and Life Satisfaction scores. Results show a significant variation among these countries, but some major trends. We also estimated a global GPI/capita over the 1950-2003 period. Global GPI/capita peaked in 1978, about the same time that global Ecological Footprint exceeded global Biocapacity. Life Satisfaction in almost all countries has also not improved significantly since 1975. Globally, GPI/capita does not increase beyond a GDP/capita of around $7000/capita. If we distributed income more equitably around the planet, the current world GDP ($67. trillion/yr) could support 9.6. billion people at $7000/capita. While GPI is not the perfect economic welfare indicator, it is a far better approximation than GDP. Development policies need to shift to better account for real welfare and not merely GDP growth.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)57-68
    Number of pages12
    JournalEcological Economics
    Volume93
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Sept 2013

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