Friday, September 18, 2009

Sen and Stiglitz on Choosing Growth or Leisure

Two of the worlds most respected economists, Nobel Laureates Joseph Stiglitz and Amartya Sen, are heading a French government commission on improving measurement of economic well-being. Among their many criticisms of the Gross Domestic Product as a measurement, they say the following in their overview document:

"Surely, if one society chooses to limit its consumption of material goods, enjoying more leisure, including time devoted to culture, the arts, and community engagement, it should not be counted against it. Citizens in such a society might be far happier than in one which works longer hours, spending less time both with the family and in the community. Citizens in the hardworking society complain that, while they are working hard for the family, they have no time left for the family. Yet, our conventional measures would attribute better economic performance to the harder- working and unhappier society: both incomes and growth would be higher."


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