GDP up; parents’ time with kids plummets

Written By: - Date published: 12:13 pm, March 20th, 2008 - 18 comments
Categories: economy, International, youtube - Tags: , ,

One of the most interesting questions from the audience at the Stiglitz interview in Wellington last week was whether he thought we were focusing unduly on “economic growth” as the sole indicator of societal wellbeing.

The point being that, as in the headline, it’s easy to imagine situations in which GDP’s rising but quality of life is falling.

Worldchanging report that it’s been 40 years since the famous Robert Kennedy speech (video below) in which he pointed out that:

“Gross National Product counts air pollution and cigarette advertising, and ambulances to clear our highways of carnage [yet]… does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages, the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials.”

Worldchanging go on to report that there’s work being done around the possibility of issuing a set of “satellite accounts” in tandem with the monetary accounts of GDP to try to give value to other things we might care about, and that there may be gathering political will to pursue such an initiative.

18 comments on “GDP up; parents’ time with kids plummets”

  1. insider 1

    Sounds like a productivity issue to me

  2. insider 2

    Oh btw, will be blogging on the management interference in journalistic freedom, professionalism and integrity at Fairfax which has resulted in items being literally ripped from papers before distribution?

  3. Steve Pierson 3

    now, that’s oratory

  4. BeShakey 4

    What did Stiglitz say?

  5. Of course insider there’s no difference between an editor forcing a “clarification” at the request of a politician and the pulling of a reference to a porn site. Tell me mate, when you were a journalist what rounds did you do?

  6. Matthew Pilott 6

    Insider, I await the link to your blog, where you get into it. That’s what you were trying to say, right?

  7. insider 7

    Wonder what it would be like without the dramatic dumdumditteedumm soundtrack.

    I saw a bit of that white guy Barack Obama on TV. He was talking very well – seemed to be without notes too but maybe he’s just good with an autocue

  8. insider 8


    Nope missed out a “you” after the “will”

    I’m not intullecshual enuff for a blog

  9. all_your_base 9

    BeShakey – he roughly said: “yeah, there might be other metrics of measuring success as well as GDP”. Similar clip below with his own words.

  10. Steve Pierson 10

    Stiglitz also made these points about GDP. He was all for measurs of performance that go beyond mere economic production – hard to measure of course, that’s the problem.

  11. insider 11


    According to the NZH chapel they were concerned at the concept of management interference in editorial decisions full stop. That concern was “heightened” by the possible political angle. Much of the comment on this site at the time was about the validity of management intervention as a concept rather than specific to the case in question.

  12. Yeah I know insider – I’m no fan of commercial decisions interfering in the editorial process but the horse has well and truly bolted on that one. As you know there are plenty of weekly and daily editorial meetings around the country that include the advertising manager as a matter of course and unfortunately that’s pretty much the way it works now. In terms of interference however, the “clarification” really did raise the stakes. If you can’t see that it’s probably for the best you’re no longer in the newsroom.

  13. insider 13

    I always said it was not a good move

  14. Stephen 14

    A very recent article in ‘The Economist’ labelled GDP as ‘Grossly Distorted Perception (Mar 15, 2008. Vol. 386, Iss. 8571; pg. 106)

    Advocated ‘GDP per person’ as a better rough guide to living standards. It noted that:

    Using growth in GDP per head rather than crude GDP growth reveals a strikingly different picture of other countries’ economic health. For example, Australian politicians often boast that their economy has had one of the fastest growth rates among the major developed nations–an average of 3.3% over the past five years. But Australia has also had one of the biggest increases in population; its GDP per head has grown no faster than Japan’s over this period. Likewise, Spain has been one of the euro area’s star performers in terms of GDP growth, but over the past three years output per person has grown more slowly than in Germany, which like Japan, has a shrinking population.

  15. Stephen 15

    Correction, the PODCAST labelled it ‘grossly distorted perception’.

  16. Matthew Pilott 16

    Insider, I think you’re taking a simplistic view by saying that it was a critique of management interference in general, as opposed to criticisim of the single incident.

    It’s accepted that there are standards and if they are violated than I wouldn’t complain about management intervening, as long as said standards are clearly defined and public. For example, I wouldn’t expect what graces the cover of Truth to appear on the SST, and would understand if an attempt was made to stop this if a raunchy cover had somehow made it into production.

    Doesn’t apply to the Bay Report case.

    But this is all rather off topic – shouldn’t really be pandering to your blatant thread-jacking.

  17. Insider:

    “Sounds like a productivity issue to me”

    Or perhaps a labour market issue? i.e. Ours is deregulated, de-unionised and without an awards system? Have a look ….

  18. Focusing on GDP? If you are referring to economists, economist/advisers and their political masters, then you are setting up a straw man.

    No-one who gives policy advice focuses solely on GDP. And how many politicians do you know who think GDP is the be all and end-all?

    There are a plethora of statistics out there aboout how well a country is doing: development statistics, technology, health, crime etc. GDP is viewed as a summary measure of economic activity. It’s a starting point but is not the sole focus.

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