United States economist Joseph Stiglitz, India’s Amartya Sen, both Nobel laureates, and 20 other economists of world renown on Monday presented a report in Paris, on ways to improve the measurement of economic growth and correct the deficiencies of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) indicators.
President of France Nicholas Sarkozy commissioned the report in February last year, when he named a special panel to find new ways to measure growth that would take into account social well-being.
Mr. Stiglitz, who heads the Commission on the Measurement of Economic Performance and Social Progess, wrote in the executive summary: “It is time for our statistics system to put more emphasis on measuring the well-being of the population than on economic production.”
Currently, growth is measured as a percentage increase or decrease in GDP, which is a measure of the value of goods and services generated in a country and has long been seen by many as a crude benchmark.
Speaking at the launch of the report, Mr. Sarkozy said France would pioneer the use of the new technique and urge other countries to follow suit.
“In the whole world, citizens think that we’re lying to them, that the figures are false and, worse, that they’re being manipulated,” he said, calling for a new measure for economic performance.
The report was released at a time when many world economies are beginning to come out of recession, but unemployment is continuing to rise and consumer confidence, to fall. A new indicator, incorporating a notion of lifestyle and national well-being might help the President counter criticism and mounting discontent among the French electorate.
Mr. Sarkozy’s reforms have been seen as being predominantly “pro-rich” and he is struggling to find favour with the common man.
“We are now engaged in a collective reflection and we shall not stop here. There will be a before and after this commission,” Mr. Sarkozy said.
Calling for “another future, another model, another world,” he said the financial crisis would oblige the world to change its ways.