Books et al.Economics

The GDP and its discontents

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Science  22 Jul 2016:
Vol. 353, Issue 6297, pp. 356
DOI: 10.1126/science.aaf9800

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In his new book, The Great Invention: The Story of GDP and the Making (and Unmaking) of the Modern World, Ehsan Masood discusses the outsized influence that gross domestic product (GDP) has come to bear on public policy, citing factors such as income inequality, non-monetary quality-of-life indices, and environmental impact that the statistic fails to take into account. Reviewer N. Gregory Mankiw acknowledges the metric's shortcomings, but wonders whether a single number can (or should be expected to) capture all of what matters about a society.