When you read headlines about the economy, the subject matter usually relates to whether the markets are up or down, the changing value of currency, oil prices or job market statistics, and a deeper inspection of the overall economy will often cite GDP results. But what does all this translate to in our day to day lives? Does it make us all more content when the market is doing well? Does a growth of 10,000 more jobs in a month mean that 10,000 more people are doing a job that brings them satisfaction? Can a thriving economy accurately fulfill our aspirations? Is growth making us happy?
Even GDP’s creator, Simon Kuznets, stated that “[t]he welfare of a nation can scarcely be inferred from a measurement of national income” in 1934. Do we need to find new economic indicators, ones better suited to providing contentment and a feeling of prosperity?
The GDP you’ve likely heard of is an acronym for Gross Domestic Product. GDP represents the total dollar value of all goods and services produced over a specific time period. For simplicity’s sake, let’s say if in 2016, as a country, we produced $100 worth of goods and services, and in 2017 we produced $103. Economists would tell us our economy has grown three percent. Obviously, the United States of America aims to produce far more than $103 worth of goods and services—in 2015, the GDP reached a record high of $18036.65 Billion.