Mismeasuring Our Lives: Why GDP Doesn't Add Up

Joseph E. Stiglitz

Book cover

This book read like a report written by a government committee, which isn’t surprising given that it was a report written by a government committee. The authors discuss, at a non-technical level (there is a technical document online) several shortcomings of GDP as a measure of national economic well-being. These cover a wide range of issues, most of which I had read about in one form or another–insensitivity to distribution, tenuous connection of economic prosperity and reported subjective well-being, failure to account for environmental impacts, etc. It’s all interesting and fine as far as it goes, but I was left with the strong feeling of wanting the authors to take a stand on something. To their credit, they end each chapter with a series of recommendations. But there are so many that no government would focus on all of them, so I wish the authors had taken a stand on which would be most meaningful or important to make. I know it’s a political decision, but economists are allowed to express political opinions.

My Goodreads rating: 2 stars