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Products for grant HB-50277-13

A History of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP)
Dirk Philipsen, Virginia State University

Grant details:

The Little Big Number: How GDP Came to Rule the World, and What to Do About It (Book)
Title: The Little Big Number: How GDP Came to Rule the World, and What to Do About It
Author: Dirk Philipsen
Abstract: In one lifetime, GDP, or Gross Domestic Product, has ballooned from a narrow economic tool into a global article of faith. It is our universal yardstick of progress. As The Little Big Number demonstrates, this spells trouble. While economies and cultures measure their performance by it, GDP ignores central facts such as quality, costs, or purpose. It only measures output: more cars, more accidents; more lawyers, more trials; more extraction, more pollution—all count as success. Sustainability and quality of life are overlooked. Losses don’t count. GDP promotes a form of stupid growth and ignores real development. How and why did we get to this point? Dirk Philipsen uncovers a submerged history dating back to the 1600s, climaxing with the Great Depression and World War II, when the first version of GDP arrived at the forefront of politics. Transcending ideologies and national differences, GDP was subsequently transformed from a narrow metric to the purpose of economic activity. Today, increasing GDP is the highest goal of politics. In accessible and compelling prose, Philipsen shows how it affects all of us. But the world can no longer afford GDP rule. A finite planet cannot sustain blind and indefinite expansion. If we consider future generations equal to our own, replacing the GDP regime is the ethical imperative of our times. More is not better. As Philipsen demonstrates, 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.
Year: 2015
Primary URL:
Primary URL Description: Princeton University Press
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Type: Single author monograph
ISBN: ISBN: 97806911
Copy sent to NEH?: No

The Growth Delusion (Article)
Title: The Growth Delusion
Author: Dirk Philipsen
Abstract: All modern economies are organized to pursue one central goal: indiscriminate growth as measured by GDP. Despite widespread criticism, they continue to follow a path we can no longer afford. Explaining how and why this happened, this article explores why concerns about stagnation may be misplaced and distract from the real problem of mindless growth
Year: 2015
Primary URL:
Format: Journal
Periodical Title: The Long and Short
Publisher: NESTA

GDP's Wicked Spell (Article)
Title: GDP's Wicked Spell
Author: Dirk Philipsen
Abstract: A historical discussion of why more is not necessarily better
Year: 2015
Primary URL:
Format: Journal
Publisher: The Chronicle of Higher Education