Summary of Why Governments Should Prioritize Well-Being

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With Brexit on the horizon, Scotland, which voted to remain in the European Union, faces a period of unnerving uncertainty. Yet First Minister Nicola Sturgeon manages to keep her moral compass pointing north. Sturgeon leads a re-examination of the gross domestic product (GDP), a measure created by 18th-century Scottish philosopher Adam Smith that attempts to quantify national wealth and economic success. But the calculation has vast shortcomings. In the face of climate change, automation and an aging population, Sturgeon pokes holes in the GDP metric and offers a wholesome, holistic alternative.

About the Speaker

Nicola Sturgeon, a progressive feminist, is the first minister of Scotland and the leader of the Scottish National Party.



Gross domestic product alone is an insufficient metric for measuring the success of an economy.

In his seminal book The Wealth of Nations, Adam Smith introduced the notion of gross domestic product (GDP) as a tool to measure a country’s wealth and economic health. GDP measures the value of goods and services that a nation produces. Today, the metric is often perceived as the most significant indicator of a country’s success.

But GDP has several shortcomings, and placing too much emphasis on this gauge of economic health is problematic. For example, while GDP measures the output of labor, it ignores the nature of that labor. Thus...

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