Of course, GDP is not a good way to measure our wellbeing and was not really meant to be. Unfortunately, our inate desire to want to count everything means that we ignore the “quality of life” and only judge ourselves by the “quantity of life”.
Diane Coyle’s book on GDP aptly shows its many flaws and its benefits but there is not one alternative. New Zealand utilises a dashboard approach-that shows GDP per capita, Ease of Doing Business, Index of Economic Freedom, Human Development Index, Happiest OECD Country, GDP and Corruption Perceptions Index (as a Trustee of Transparency International — UK, I naturally support the latter). It is an attempt to show a picture of themselves although there probably needs to be something on their use / abuse of natural resources (the “natural capital” people have immediately gone for a financial assessment system, which again panders to our need for numbers).
The Robert Kennedy quote below is totally right but does not provide an answer — when we seem default to numbers. Perhaps as we rise up Maslow’s hierarchy and move away from the fulfilment of basic needs, we will train ourselves to move beyond simplistic number systems.