Important attack on prosperity

In: Uncategorized

24 Jan 2009

The New Economics Foundation, a British think tank, has launched a comprehensive report and related website on national accounts of well-being for European countries. It is designed to further the organisation’s case that economic growth should be downplayed in favour of subjective measures of well-being.

Among other things the website features:

• Robert Kennedy’s famous 1968 quote on GDP measuring everything but what is important in life.

• Endorsements from the likes of happiness gurus such as Lord Richard Layard, Ed Diener, Daniel Kahneman and Martin Seligman. Significantly it also has the backing of Enrico Giovannini, the chief statistician of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.

• A reference to Easterlin’s paradox – that happiness is not increasing in line with economic growth.

I have already written critiques of these ideas in my articles on the Easterlin paradox (“No ‘paradox of prosperity’”) and on the attack on GDP (“A sneaky attack on prosperity”). They can be accessed from the links on the bar on the left.

For supporters of prosperity it is imperative to take up such arguments promoting “well-being”.

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