The Little Big Number: How GDP Came to Rule the World and What to Do about It by Dirk PhilipsenThe Little Big Number: How GDP Came to Rule the World and What to Do about It by Dirk Philipsen

The Little Big Number: How GDP Came to Rule the World and What to Do about It

byDirk Philipsen

Hardcover | May 26, 2015

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In one lifetime, GDP, or Gross Domestic Product, has ballooned from a narrow economic tool into a global article of faith. As The Little Big Number demonstrates, this spells trouble. While economies and cultures measure their performance by it, GDP only measures output. It ignores central facts such as quality, costs, or purpose. Sustainability and quality of life are overlooked. Losses don't count. The world can no longer afford GDP rule-GDP ignores real development. Dirk Philipsen demonstrates how the history of GDP reveals unique opportunities to fashion smarter goals and measures. The Little Big Number explores a possible roadmap for a future that advances quality of life rather than indiscriminate growth.

Dirk Philipsen is a German- and American-trained professor of economic history at the Sanford School of Public Policy and a senior fellow at the Kenan Institute for Ethics, both at Duke University.
Title:The Little Big Number: How GDP Came to Rule the World and What to Do about ItFormat:HardcoverDimensions:416 pagesPublished:May 26, 2015Publisher:Princeton University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0691166528

ISBN - 13:9780691166520

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vii

Introduction: We Become What We Measure 1

Casting a Spell 9

Exploring a Path 13

1. More, Better, Faster: The Beginnings 19

Productivity, Growth, and Success 20

Goals and Measures 27

Values and Measures 32

2. The Origins of Bling: The Spirit of Economic Growth 40

The World of Growth: Refining the Measure 52

Business Accounting Goes National 57

3. The Crucible of Crisis: The Great Depression and the Need for Economic Indicators 65

4. Born from Disaster: The Making of a Key Measure 83

The Challenge 84

The Players 89

The Method 93

The Findings 99

The Big Conundrum: Translating Findings into Action 102

5. Forged in War 107

6. Global Domination: The Age of GDP 117

For Richer or Poorer 117

A Stunted Priesthood 121

Stopgap Consensus 123

Going Global 128

New Rules 130

GDP Junkies 133

Shackled in Fool's Gold 139

7. Today's ABC of GDP 143

It's an Emperor, but Does It Have Clothes? 152

Why It Matters 157

8. More Is Not Enough 160

The Little Big Number: Our Report Card for Success 174

Emerging Dissent 178

9. "The People of Plenty Are a People of Waste" 184

Breaking the Spell 204

10. From Alchemy to Reason: What If? A Thought Experiment 208

Mental Cobwebs 219

One More Time: Simon Kuznets 230

Clearing a Path 236

11. Looking Forward 243

A Daring Vision 250

A Moment of Possibility 265

Appendix A. The Measure as Guide 271

Notes 277

Bibliography 351

Index 389

Editorial Reviews

"The Little Big Number demonstrates that the reigning measure of economic policymaking worldwide is not only inadequate but perverse in its impact on any possibility for sane social and economic discourse. This impressive and lively book will become the authoritative text for critiquing GDP."-Thad Williamson, University of Richmond