#rethinkmaterialism — Wellbeing as a better measure of national growth than GDP

2 min readJan 9, 2019

#ebbfmember Augusto Lopez-Claros was recently interviewed by New Zealand’s National Public Radio.

The journalist, Charlotte Graham-McLay, was interested in discussing alternative metrics of human welfare and development (a hot topic in the country at the moment), beyond GDP;

they ended up talking about gender equality as well and why it matters so much in today’s globalized world mentioning ideas from Augusto Lopez-Claros most recent book : Equality for Women, Prosperity for All

The interview started with Augusto highlighting some of the fundamentals of GDP that make it an obsolete measure.

"One of the key reasons GDP has remained the key measure of wellbeing is the increasing satisfaction with the metric it provides. However, perversely you can have GDP grow quickly in a nation but at the same time create processes in the economy at large that are not desirable.

For example an increase in growth that creates an increase in production and consequently in pollution. This in turn creates an increase in illnesses of the population and in the need to use more pharmaceuticals. The ultimate result is a further increase in GDP thanks to an increase in production and sales (more pharmaceuticals sold), but at the cost of the health of its inhabitants.”

He highlighted the ultimate purpose of the economy:
“It is of course important for the economy to provide basic needs housing, food, healthcare etc but also to extend the reach, to equipping people and institutions with the means through which they can achieve the real purpose of development:

laying the foundations for a new social order that can cultivate the limitless potentialities latent in human consciousness”

“If you have a good metric for progress then the incentives change and actions will move towards better aims”

Then the interview moved to Augusto’s views mentioned in his book flagging women’s empowermenet as the best antidote for poverty.

“Clear data shows for example how 30% quotas pushing women participation in local government in regions of India, produced higher amounts of money invested in village water projects, education, health on those things that strengthen social cohesion than in councils where this quota did not exist… another consequence of this empowerment was a new level of confort, and ecouragement of more women involved in the councils given the positive results. A change of mentality and awareness was thus created.”





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