A revelatory and entertaining book about the pitfalls of how we measure our economy and how to correct them, by an award-winning editor of The Financial Times
'A near miracle' Ha-Joon Chang, author of 23 Things They Don't Tell You About Capitalism
In The Growth Delusion, author and prize-winning journalist David Pilling explores how economists and their cult of growth have hijacked our policy-making and infiltrated our thinking about what makes societies work. Our policies are geared relentlessly towards increasing our standard measure of growth, Gross Domestic Product. By this yardstick we have never been wealthier or happier. So why doesn't it feel that way? Why are we living in such fractured times, with global populism on the rise and wealth inequality as stark as ever?
In a book that is simultaneously trenchant, thought-provoking and entertaining, Pilling argues that we need to measure our successes and failures using different criteria. While for economic growth, heroin consumption and prostitution are worth more than volunteer work or public services, in a rational world we would learn how to value what makes economies better, not just what makes them bigger. So much of what is important to our wellbeing, from clean air to safe streets and from steady jobs to sound minds, lies outside the purview of our standard measure of success. We prioritise growth maximisation without stopping to think about the costs.
In prose that cuts through the complex language so often wielded by a priesthood of economists, Pilling argues that our steadfast loyalty to growth is informing misguided policies - and contributing to a rising mistrust of experts that is shaking the very foundations of our democracy.
David Pilling has been a prize-winning reporter and editor for the Financial Times for twenty-five years. Currently the Africa editor and one of their featured columnists, he was previously the Asia editor, running coverage across the continent. His first book, Bending Adversity: Japan and the Art of Survival (Allen Lane, 2014), received outstanding reviews. He lives in London but travels frequently to Africa.