Another look at measuring growth

Cover Doughnut Economics: Seven Ways to Think Like a 21st-Century EconomistDoughnut Economics: Seven Ways to Think Like a 21st-Century Economist
by Kate Raworth
Published by Random House Business, £20
(Buy at Amazon)

After several years of stagnation the global economy finally seems to be starting to recover, with GDP growth increasing across the world. But what if, in our obsession with GDP, we’re focusing on the wrong thing? In Doughnut Economics, economist Kate Raworth argues that the way in which we measure economic activity and progress “bears little relationship to reality”. So she comes up with an alternative model that “allows us to change our view of who we are, where we stand, and what we want to be”, says George Monbiot in The Guardian.

“It’s really hard to tell, as a non-economist, just how paradigm-changing it will be, but I loved it, and I want everyone to read it,” says Duncan Green, writing on the World Bank’s blog. Raworth’s ideas about sustainable development aim to “get past the insane optimism of the exponentionalists, and the sloppy oppositionalism of the de-growthers”. Still, the book is less strong when it comes to explaining how to implement her suggestion and could have benefited from a “discussion of how the ideas interact with politics… not just the power of bad guys, but the workings of democracy”.

Still, this “sharp, insightful call for a shift in thinking” among economists is timely, given that “the established model of economic thought no longer satisfies economics students”, says Publishers Weekly.

Raworth makes several key suggestions for reform,“such as shifting the goal of economists from addressing financial to humanitarian concerns, recognising ecology as a significant factor in economic growth [and] responsibly redistributing wealth”. Her “energetic, layperson-friendly writing” is particularly effective and makes this “highly optimistic look at the global economy” both “accessible” and “intriguing”.