11/18/2019

Wealth Is About Much More than Physical Things

"Human wealth should be defined by the widely shared ability to use things that help us flourish. It’s hard to aggregate these “things” in any shared measure, since wealth includes owning a nice car or being able to use Wikipedia immediately and for free. If I buy, or even rent, the car, it counts toward GDP; using Wikipedia counts for nothing in the National Income Accounts, but it’s pretty useful in terms of increasing my utility. One thing that this means, of course, is that the idea that price-based “standards of living” have been stagnating is just misguided. New measures of GDP would help, but the larger problem is that any purely market-focused metric will miss the ability, and in fact the desire, of human beings to cooperate in groups."