Why we shouldn’t judge a country by its GDP

South Africa is among the top 68 countries on the Social Progress Index. Makes one wonder where the xenophobia of black on black violence is coming from?


Gross Domestic Product has become the yardstick by which we measure a country’s success. But, says Michael Green, GDP isn’t the best way to measure a good society. His alternative? The Social Progress Index, which measures things like basic human needs and opportunity.

Analysts, reporters and big thinkers love to talk about Gross Domestic Product. Put simply, GDP, which tallies the value of all the goods and services produced by a country each year, has become the yardstick by which we measure a country’s success. But there’s a big, elephant-like problem with that: GDP only accounts for a country’s economic performance, not the happiness or well-being of its citizens. With GDP, if your richest 100 people get richer, your GDP rises … but most of your citizens are just as badly off as they were before.

That’s one of the reasons the team that I lead at the Social Progress…

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  1. mubarak.mabuya · · Reply

    I have watched Michael Green on TEDTALK. His arguments make a lot of sense. Public policy and action should focus on improving the quality of human life and not numbers (economic stats). We need to look at means and ends. Economic growth should be viewed as one of the complimentary means and not the destination as most of our contemporary economists view it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I totally agree Mubaraka Mabuya and it is the only sustainable way.


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