Inspiration: Peter Baeck – A budget for Growth, Happiness, Equality and Life Expectancy Please

Posted on 05/04/2011

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Peter Baeck skriver på Innovationunit.wordpress.com: Two weeks ago George Osborne presented his ‘Budget for Growth’. A few articles, presentations and podcasts I’ve come across between then and now, have made me think about ‘growth’, and how we sometimes may look for the wrong things when trying to find out what we value in our society and how we want to grow this.

First, I listened to the Freakonomics podcast ‘The Health of Nations’ where Professor of Law and Ethics Martha Nussbaum was interviewed about her critique of the usage of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as a measurement tool of how healthy countries are compared to each other. The problem, Nussbaum explained, is that GDP fails to capture a whole range of things that says a lot about a nation’s wealth, such as health, happiness equality and education. For example, South Africa under apartheid had a strong GDP, but was for many reasons not a very healthy society. As a response to this problem Nussbaum is, together with Amartya Sen, developing what the Human Development Index (HDI). HDI, in addition to GDP measures a series of other factors, such as life expectancy at birth, access to knowledge (mean years of schooling and expected years of schooling) and living standards (measured through GNI per capita). By not just focusing on GDP, but also on these additional factors, policy makers, according to Nussbaum, encouraged to move from a focus that evolves around economic growth, to policies that evolve around human well being. (I completely acknowledge that most policy makers will already address the human wellbeing factors, not least, because they are aware of the correlations between these and economic growth). Building on this Nussbaum countries who might not have the highest GDP in the world, come out on top because of their high levels of equality and high educational standards would come out on top. She describes how she, based on a HDI comparison would probably prefer to live in Finland, one of the HDI top scorers.

Her kan du læse restem af Peter Baecks blogindlæg.

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