Beyond GDP: The Need for New Measures of Progress – Boston University Frederick S. Pardee Center for the Study of the Longer Range Future

The paper was co-authored by Robert Costanza, the Gordon and Lulie Gund Professor of Ecological Economics and Director of the Gund Institute for Ecological Economics at the University of Vermont; Maureen Hart, Acting Executive Director of the Community Indicators Consortium and president of the consulting firm Sustainable Measures; Stephen Posner, a graduate student and research assistant at the Gund Institute for Ecological Economics; and John Talberth, Senior Economist at the Center for Sustainable Economy. The paper reviews the history of how and why the gross domestic product (GDP), a measure of economic activity, has become a widely accepted standard for measuring a country’s perceived overall progress in human development when that was never its intended purpose. The authors review other measurement methods that try to capture environmental and societal well-being in addition to economic growth and argue that a new indicator or set of indictors for measuring true human progress is urgently needed.