Perhaps a small thing but where is it in GDP

Doddie Weir has MND – no, not a good thing. However, in this constant snarling about how we’re all poorer than our forefathers we’ve a little thing:

We’ve done speech therapy and voice banking. That means whenever my voice disappears, you’ll be able to go through an iPad, press a button and it will come out in my voice.

That voice banking might only be a mild advance for a small number of people in their terminal stages. But it is an advance. And it also doesn’t appear in GDP at all. It’s not a market transaction and thus doesn’t have a price, it’s a hedonic improvement.

And how many more things like that are there out there? Results of that technological change which just aren’t being counted?

12 thoughts on “Perhaps a small thing but where is it in GDP”

  1. D’y not find it wonderful how the bleaters about poverty always seem to find the 2-300% premium required to get fruit on their bits of technowizzardry?

  2. PJF: love the idea of “running a hedonic regression through [a] computer.” I don’t know what it means, but it sounds good, or anyway filthy.

  3. Isn’t a Voice Bank where poor people go when they haven’t got the words to speak truth to power? It stocks nothing but free copies of the Guardian.

  4. A large part of appearing to be poorer is because expectations are higher. For quite a while during and after college in the late 70s/early 80s I didn’t have a TV. Even a second hand b/w set was very expensive.
    Few college leavers now could contemplate not being able to afford a large screen TV, a smart phone, laptop, broadband, mp3 player, expensive headphones… the list goes on. To not to be able to afford these “basics” is considered extreme poverty.

  5. @JS

    Yep- and the knock on’s are funny things. I had a birthday recently, and I couldn’t think of a single thing I wanted. Ok- if the budget would have stretched to a Porsche or something, I probably could have improvised, but I didn’t want or need anything in the usual birthday gift budget range. So I didn’t bother, just had a nice meal in with my wife.

    Doubtless this would be an example of impoverishment if I were a Guardian writer- “Tory economic policy robbed me of birthday gifts”

  6. With John Square on this.

    I now ask for no gifts. I want for nothing. What I don’t need are a bunch of things I don’t need.

    People who know my ‘tastes’ can often find a book. A bottle of wine is always welcome but otherwise I have everything I need.

    Everything else I buy when I want or need.

    Mr. Murphy might consider that by not spending, I am avoiding tax.

  7. My Mum is amazing at picking gifts for me, because she knows what I like and she knows what I want. Therefore, I got nine absolutely superb books for my birthday, because that’s one of the main things we talk about. But she’d never dream of buying me something purely utilitarian because chances are a) I’ve already got it or b) I wouldn’t have bought it in the first place.

  8. Bloke in North Dorset

    “Good grief, there actually are government officials out there counting (or pretending to) hedonic improvements. And using the “measurements” to cook the books.”

    And there was this simple soul thinking the whole point of GDP, despite all its faults, was that it as objective. Trust politicians to take even this simple measure and screw around with it.

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