Well, if you’re going to ignore what economists say then

The idea that population growth is essential to boost GDP, and that this is good for everyone, is ubiquitous and goes largely unchallenged. For example, according to the Treasury’s 2010 intergenerational report:

Economic growth will be supported by sound policies that support productivity, participation and population — the ‘3Ps’.

If one defines “economic growth” in the first place by saying that’s what happens when you have more and more people consuming, then obviously more and more people produce growth.

The fact that GDP, our main measure of growth, might be an utterly inadequate and inappropriate yardstick for our times remains a kooky idea to most economists, both in business and government.

Economists always, but always, distinguish between GDP and GDP per capita. Which neatly takes care of this particular whine.

4 comments on “Well, if you’re going to ignore what economists say then

  1. I’m sick of phrases like “We’re the 5th largest economy in the world, therefore we should be able to do something about ( important issue )”.
    We’re about 25th on per capita. We’re only 5th if you add everybody up, and for example use those combined resources to raise an army to threaten someone. If you divide those resources by the amount needed to fix the important domestic issue then we’re back to 25th.
    A picky distinction, but it currently gets my goat.

  2. “…distinguish between GDP and GDP per capita. Which neatly takes care of this particular whine.”
    Governments worried about debt will like a bit of GDP growth to improve the debt/GDP ratio. But citizens worried about their lifestyles will care more about GDP per head.

  3. “always, but always”: you exaggerate. One can’t trust economists, at least in newspaper articles, even to distinguish % from % p.a., nor even percent from percentage point.

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