Gross Domestic Problem: The Politics Behind the World’s Most Powerful Number

gdproblem(Zed Books, 2013)

Author: L. Fioramonti

Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is arguably the best-known statistic in the contemporary world, and certainly amongst the most powerful. It drives government policy and sets priorities in a variety of vital social fields – from schooling to healthcare. Yet for perhaps the first time since it was invented in the 1930s, this popular icon of economic growth has come to be regarded by many as a ‘problem’. After all, does our quality of life really improve when our economy grows 2 or 3{4b05898ae60f9b5e2d93b69cb2027f6f0d06dfa7d8f8611bbe8472c2532adfa6}? Can we continue to sacrifice the environment to safeguard a vision of the world based on the illusion of infinite economic growth?

In Gross Domestic Problem, Lorenzo Fioramonti takes apart the ‘content’ of GDP – what it measures, what it doesn’t and why – and reveals the powerful political interests that have allowed it to dominate today’s economies. He also demonstrates how GDP has little if any relevance to moral principles such as equity, social justice and redistribution, and shows that an alternative is possible, as evinced by the ‘de-growth’ movement and initiatives such as transition towns.

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