Measuring the health of a nation

I’ve written before how GDP is such an ineffective measure of how well we are doing. It hides such a multitude of sins and masks huge disparities in wealth within a country. Nations can seem to be doing well by a trick of statistics or the variety of industries that they are strong in.

Also, measuring GDP does nothing for the issues that the world is facing today. Continued growth expectations are contradictory to the welfare of the planet. We cannot keep consuming and hope that somehow the environment will survive. No, instead we need new measures, ones that reflect what the people of  the world really need.

I am sure there are many but here are three simple ones that could be used to show the relative health of a nation compared to its neighbours.

  1. Can people afford to eat – The average amount of time that someone would have to work to afford 2000 calories in the relevant local staple (potato, rice, millet etc), as well as the spread from the lowest income decile to the highest income decile.
  2. Can people afford a place to live  – The average amount of income that is spent on housing provision, either rent or mortgage, as well as the spread from the lowest income decile to the highest income decile.
  3. The effect of people on the environment – The average amount of carbon dioxide and methane produced per capita, as well as the spread from the lowest income decile to the highest income decile.

Other factors may be for consideration, such as healthcare, life expectancy and heating cost for example yet it would be better to have fewer measures to avoid confusion. Am I able to feed myself and my family while putting a roof over our heads is a fundamental human need.

I know that some of this  information is available, if not in the required format and so it would be relatively easy to publish. I don’t want to hear about whether GDP is in growth or not. I want to know that people are well fed, have a roof over their heads and are reducing their effect on the planet.

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