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Economists Search for New Definition of Well-Being

by Spiegel staff Wednesday, Sep. 30, 2009 at 2:29 AM
mbatko@lycos.com

To the vulgar materialist, all life consists of cloud-atoms and sky-atoms. A world without spirit is not human.

"GDP may be an extremely useful economic indicator, but it ignores many factors important to the well-being of a society, such as health care or life expectancy. Economists like the Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz are now trying to come up with a new, broader definition of prosperity.

It was an astonishing confession for a politician to make, particularly one like French President Nicolas Sarkozy. "The world over, citizens think we are lying to them," the French president admitted last week to a stunned audience at the Sorbonne in Paris. "And they have reasons to think like that."

Sarkozy was referring to the way in which government statistics measure economic growth. He believes that the current method is extremely questionable, perhaps even manipulative. This realization prompted the French president in 2008 to commission a number of prominent academics, including Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz, to come up with a new definition of prosperity.

"GDP has increasingly become used as a measure of societal well-being and changes in the structure of the economy and our society have made it an increasingly poor one," Stiglitz told the news agency Bloomberg in a recent interview. "So many things that are important to individuals are not included in GDP." In the model they unveiled last week in Paris, the academics recommend including other factors, such as sustainability and education..."

to read the article by the Spiegal staff published 9/22/2009, click on
http://www.spiegel.de/international/business/0,1518,druck-650532,00.html
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