1978: The Year Global Prosperity Peaked
Posted by Phoenix Woman on July 14, 2013
PECULIAR fashion choices, an oil crisis and embarrassing hairstyles notwithstanding, the 1970s were the good old days. A new study of global wealth says prosperity peaked at the end of that decade. Economic policy-makers, take note: we have been heading downhill since 1978 (see “1978: in this year…“).
…many economists have begun searching for more comprehensive measures of economic progress that reflect the overall state of a country. One that has been widely used is the Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI), which adjusts expenditure in 26 ways to account for social and environmental costs, such as pollution, crime and inequality, and for beneficial activities where no money changes hands, such as housework and volunteering.
Ida Kubiszewski and Robert Costanza at the Australian National University in Canberra and their colleagues gathered estimates of GPI for 17 countries – totalling more than half the world’s population and GDP – and assembled them into the first-ever global picture of how GPI has changed over the years. They found that GPI per person peaked in 1978 and has been declining slowly but steadily ever since (Ecological Economics, doi.org/m53). This contrasts sharply with the steady increase in GDP per capita since then, and implies that social and environmental woes have outpaced the growth of monetary wealth.
“We’re not making a social profit,” says Costanza. In particular, growing inequality of incomes and environmental degradation are the biggest factors dragging GPI down.
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