Goldsmiths-IMS Economics Seminars
GDP is a hard addiction to drop. In spite of a wide consensus calling for its removal on the grounds of social welfare mismeasurement, environmental degradation and overconsumption, it remains a crucial measure in economics and necessary component for state finance. Yet there remains no consensus on the alternative social measure, instead a plurality of measures are emerging. This setting is the backdrop to a new literature on the origins of GDP which looks to explain how the measure became a fundamental part of our lives. This literature has brought new names to the fore such as John Maynard Keynes emphasising how individuals worked to create this measure. This paper however will argue that a reframing is required – if we are to truly under how this state finance tool came into being we need to go back to the critical juncture of the 1930s and properly understand content and motives for the debates of the day. The paper will contextualise 1930s national income studies within a worldwide research turn which saw numeration of population figures, production figures, and other national level estimates which could be used to understand a newly opened “macroeconomic” space. By better understanding the purpose of GDP measurement - as it was first intended - we can hopefully learn to kick the GDP habit.
Mr. Matthew Fright is a PhD Candidate at the Centre of Development Studies at the University of Cambridge. He has previously worked at the UK National Audit Office and his research considers how attitude shifts in the social sciences 1930s revolutionised the way we measure the world today.
The seminar is free to attend, open to all students, staff and public. No reservation required.
Dates & times
|15 Nov 2017||4:30pm - 6:00pm|
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