Last week, Capital Institute network organization Demos released a striking report and series of graphics on the myth that economic growth equals progress. The report lays out the argument for rethinking our national accounts while the graphics visually detail the failures of GDP as a measurement of progress.
Chet Baker’s warm, presencing voice and trumpet ushered in the inaugural event of Demos’ “Sustainable Progress Initiative” at the public policy research and advocacy group’s Manhattan offices on the night of October 6. The Initiative’s new senior policy analyst Mijin Cha and its director Lew Daly introduced best-selling author and economist Juliet Schor and her plenitude model, and the evening (which was cosponsored by the World Policy Institute) became an exploration of the model’s potential to free up Americans to be present to explore the dimensions of a more meaningful “livelihood.”
Schor’s latest book, released in paperback under the title: True Wealth: How and Why Millions of Americans are Creating A Time Rich, Ecologically Light, Small-Scale, High-Satisfaction Economy, describes the plenitude model, which calls for Americans to work fewer hours and reap the benefits of both “time wealth” and reduced carbon footprints. Schor reports that she wrote True Wealth as a solutions manual, sensing that Americans were yearning for an alternative pathway rather than a dissection of what we all know is a broken economic and social system.
“Mismeasuring our Lives: Why GDP Doesn’t Add Up,” a panel discussion held at Columbia University on December 7, brought four distinguished economists together for an open conversation that began with the need for policymakers to look beyond GDP as a standard economic measure to address both ecological constraints and human well-being but moved to the central challenge of our time: can economies continue to grow without degrading the ecosystem and if not, what are the alternatives?
Sponsored by the public policy research and advocacy organization Demos, the event featured panelists Alan B. Krueger, most recently the US Treasury's Chief Economist and currently Bendheim Professor of Economics and Public Affairs at Princeton University; Glenn-Marie Lange, Senior Environmental Economist at the World Bank; Juliet B. Schor, Professor of Sociology, Boston College; and Joseph Stiglitz, Nobel Laureate and Co-Chair of the Committee on Global Thought at Columbia University.
Global Wealth Gap Indicators:
1. Only nine countries, representing four percent of the world’s population, have narrowed the wealth gap while for 80 percent of the world’s population the wealth gap has increased. The five hundred highest income earners earn more than the poorest 416 million people (Source: UN Human Development Report 2005).