Daily Archives: Feb 3, 2018 at 07:59 am EDT

Book Bits | 3 February 2018

The Growth Delusion: Wealth, Poverty, and the Well-Being of Nations
By David Pilling
Review via Kirkus Reviews
“Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell,” the environmental curmudgeon Edward Abbey was fond of saying. One suspects that Financial Times associate editor Pilling would endorse the view, though he puts things less stridently in this studied look at economic growth and its measures and mismeasures. “Economics,” he writes, “can present a distorted view of the world.” True enough, especially because a sine qua non of modern economics is gross domestic product, a calculation of all the things that happen in an economy. But as the author memorably notes, GDP is morally indifferent: it “likes pollution,” because money is spent to clean up environmental messes, and “likes crime because it is fond of large police forces and repairing broken windows.” War and catastrophe? No problem, from a GDP point of view. Pilling examines some of the ways that renegade economists have proposed to consider the true health of an economy, with all the externalities of economic activity taken into account, from various equations to happiness rankings to the Genuine Progress Index, one of the more interesting “measures of economic welfare.”
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