Economics & Finance

The Little Big Number: How GDP Came to Rule the World and What to Do about It

The story of GDP and why we need a better measurement of growth


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May 26, 2015
2 halftones. 9 line illus. 3 tables.
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In one lifetime, GDP, or Gross Domestic Product, has ballooned from a narrow economic tool into a global article of faith. As The Little Big Number demonstrates, this spells trouble. While economies and cultures measure their performance by it, GDP only measures output. It ignores central facts such as quality, costs, or purpose. Sustainability and quality of life are overlooked. Losses don’t count. The world can no longer afford GDP rule—GDP ignores real development. Dirk Philipsen demonstrates how the history of GDP reveals unique opportunities to fashion smarter goals and measures. The Little Big Number explores a possible roadmap for a future that advances quality of life rather than indiscriminate growth.