The world is in crisis: economy, ecology, hospitality, productivism. Some of the critical moments we are facing can be explained by the way we measure development.
Currently, the Gross Domestic Product is the indicator taken into account to check how much the countries’ economy increases or decreases. However, this indicator is also based on social and political conventions and agreements, usually rooted in history, as mentioned by the economist Florence Jany-Catrice who explains that the GDP’s power reinforces the power of Western societies.
Trying to solve this issue, new indicators were built to take into account aspects of human development, such as the Gross National Happiness (GNH) in Bhutan that measures happiness and satisfaction in the country. The International Forum for Well-being gives people the opportunity to rethink our current model of society. The event brings researchers, academics and activists in Grenoble in the struggle between development indicators, power and limits, as explained by the economist.
Jany-Catrice says that the GDP is a symbolic power which summarizes the economic diversity in a single figure. However, all indicators have limits. “It works well with economic matters, but does not directly take into account society’s standard of living. For instance, the GNH tries to overcome some of the limits of the GDP like for instance the notion that “always more of what we produce or we consume is always better”.
“The second limit – she added, is that the GDP does not take into account inequality. It’s more important to think about the lack of resources. The ecological footprint warns us about the fact that we are overpassing the means we have on our disposal. These means are the natural stocks that we own and must take care of.”
Thus, as outlined by the economist, our capacity of living together, namely our well-being, will be threatened in the future by the lack of resources. In her opinion, this can generate wars, especially because we are living more and more within individualized societies. To Florence, the forum is a big opportunity to think on the desirable and meaningful future we would like to construct together.
Some information about Florence Jany-Catrice
Florence Jany-Catrice is a French economist, specializing in the study of economic indicators (or new indicators of wealth). Professor at the University of Lille I and researcher at the Lille Center for Studies and Sociological and Economic Research (CLERSE-CNRS), she also participates in the animation of critical collectives such as the Forum for other indicators of wealth.