Gross Domestic Problem: The Politics behind The World's Most Powerful Number

Research Cluster

Speaker:Lorenzo Fioramonti
Website: www.globalreboot.org
Date: Friday 1 February 2013
Time: 12:45pm
Location: MBA Suite: Building One

Further details

Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is arguably the best-known statistic in the contemporary world, and certainly amongst the most powerful. It drives government policy and sets priorities in a variety of vital social fields – from schooling to healthcare. Yet for perhaps the first time since it was invented in the 1930s, this popular icon of economic growth has come to be regarded by many as a ‘problem’. After all, does our quality of life really improve when our economy grows 2 or 3%? Can we continue to sacrifice the environment to safeguard a vision of the world based on the illusion of infinite economic growth?

In Gross Domestic Problem, Lorenzo Fioramonti takes apart the ‘content’ of GDP – what it measures, what it doesn’t and why – and reveals the powerful political interests that have allowed it to dominate today’s economies. In doing so, he demonstrates just how little relevance GDP has to moral principles such as equity, social justice and redistribution, and shows that an alternative is possible, as evinced by the ‘de-growth’ movement and initiatives such as transition towns.A startling insight into the politics of a number that has come to dominate our everyday lives.

 

Lorenzo Fioramonti is Jean Monnet Chair in Regional Integration and Governance Studies and Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Pretoria (South Africa), where he directs the Centre for the Study of Governance Innovation. He is also Senior Fellow at the Centre for Social Investment of the University of Heidelberg and at the Hertie School of Governance (Germany) as well as Associate Fellow at the United Nations University. He is the author of numerous books and articles about development policies, alternative economies and social progress indicators and the director of a short film documentary on GDP and climate change, which can be viewed at his blog: www.globalreboot.org.