In May 2020, China abandoned its target GDP, for the first time in decades. The reason for this was the great uncertainty posed by COVID-19, combined with a struggling economy and increasing international hostility.  Premier Li Keqiang said that the government would instead focus on stabilising employment and increasing living standards.

So what?

GDP or Gross Domestic Product measures the size of a country’s economy and has long been used as a measure of a nation’s success.  Despite it only measuring the economic activity of a country, it is often seen as a signifier of a nation’s development, encompassing both its economic and social development.  But focussing exclusively on economic gain, ignores the negative consequences of growth, such as environmental degradation and climate change, and provides no insight into the mental and physical health and wellbeing of a nation. Countries such as Bhutan, have long championed alternative measures such as “Gross National Happiness” which encompass a wider range of measures both environmental and social. 

If China, one of the world’s superpowers, challenges GDP as its primary measure, it could open the door for more holistic measurement of national success and drive investment in environmental protection and social welfare.


Photo by Nuno Alberto on Unsplash


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