Crashing the GDP
otherwords.org — At 9 p.m. on June 12, there was a collision on the freeway between Baltimore and D.C. The first car, a beige Prius. The second, a gigantic 18-wheeler tearing down I-95. The truck knocked the Prius sideways, sending it spiraling down the road and into the guardrail, the only thing that stopped it from plunging over the edge into the river below. The truck kept going. This, it turns out, was how my first day of my summer internship at the Institute for Policy Studies ended. Only 10 hours earlier, I had arrived at the Institute's Washington office. I would be assisting a campaign for the Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI), a more comprehensive measurement to gauge growth than Gross Domestic Product. Unlike GDP, which simply calculates all national expenditures, the GPI broadens the concept of well-being to include economic, environmental, and social factors.