The gross domestic product (GDP) is the world’s most powerful statistical measure. Its underlying economic principles have contributed to splitting the planet into two worlds: the ‘developed’ and the ‘developing’ countries and/or the North and the South. Paradoxically, the GDP mantra was imposed on poorer
nations in spite of its creators’ conclusion that its approach should not be applied to countries largely dependent on informal economic structures, as these are not considered by income accounts, which are threatened by policies designed to increase GDP (Fioramonti 2013). The economist Simon Kuznets, one
of the architects of the GDP system, is also known for having demonstrated how income inequality rises in times of fast GDP growth. His famous ‘curve’ shows
how relative poverty is exacerbated, especially in under-industrialized countries, leading to a concentration of resources and income in the hands of
a few. This brief makes the argument that GDP is a highly inappropriate measure to gauge progress, especially in the so-called developing world. It will
therefore focus on Africa to show how moving beyond GDP may open up creative opportunities to fight poverty and achieve sustainable wellbeing.
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