As we slowly move out of the pandemic, and the pandemic-induced economic crash, you’re going to hear a lot of news stories about economic growth, mostly in the form of reporting on Estimated Gross Domestic Product of GDP. We throw those statistics around a lot, without talking about what they represent, what they leave out, and why having them go up is a good thing. This has in fact long been heavily contested terrain in the fields of economics, development, and statistics.
Stephen Macekura is a professor of international studies at Indiana University Bloomington’s Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International studies. His new book is The Mismeasure of Progress: economic growth and its critics