Summary of The Unpaid Work that GDP Ignores and Why It Really Counts

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The Unpaid Work that GDP Ignores and Why It Really Counts summary
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Economist and public policy professor Marilyn Waring has been broadcasting the shortcomings of gross domestic product (GDP) for decades. Now, as many nations remove their market-focused blinders to look at metrics such as citizens’ happiness or well-being, Waring’s message is finding an audience. Learn what vital activities and value GDP ignores and what nations should be measuring instead.

About the Speaker

Economist and public policy professor Marilyn Waring is a former New Zealand parliamentarian and the author of Counting for Nothing.



The gross domestic product (GDP) metric accounts only for activities surrounding market transactions and assigns no value to vital human work.

In 1953, a cadre of “Western-educated men” defined the activities GDP would measure – and those it would omit. For these thinkers, only production pertaining to market transactions, legal or illegal, mattered. They granted little or no importance to so-called “nonprimary producers.”

As a result of this definition of GDP, much work remains unacknowledged and unpaid today. Take, for example, providing care for young or elderly family members, housekeeping, laundering clothes, cooking, running errands, and even giving birth and growing...

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