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GNP and beyond: searching for new development indicators – a view in retrospect

Udo E. Simonis (Social Science Research Centre, Berlin, Germany)

International Journal of Social Economics

ISSN: 0306-8293

Article publication date: 18 October 2011

Abstract

Purpose

World wide, the gross national product (GNP) has been and still is the basic accounting concept and the dominant societal goal and performance indicator. As the concept is full of flaws and deficiencies, national and international committees are searching for alternatives. A view in retrospect may help in this search. The purpose of this paper is to present such a view in retrospect, by looking at the early attempts made to get out of the impasse and to break the deadlock of outmoded concepts.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper deliberately looks at the early attempts made to get out of the impasse of the flawed GNP concept, and to improve and extend traditional accounting. Several of these early attempts are presented in some detail.

Findings

Both the “Growth and Distribution Index” and the “Net National Welfare Index” were useful conceptual innovations. Over time, however, they got lost or were forgotten. The time has come to reactivate such initiatives or to start and implement similar ones.

Practical implications

The traditional GNP concept neglects significant distributive and environmental effects of economic growth. The time has come to either supplement or replace the concept – to go beyond GNP.

Originality/value

The conceptual deficiencies of the traditional GNP concept are on the agenda again. A view in retrospect – as presented in this paper – could help, so that in due course a breakthrough becomes possible in the search for new development indicators.

Keywords

Citation

Simonis, U.E. (2011), "GNP and beyond: searching for new development indicators – a view in retrospect", International Journal of Social Economics, Vol. 38 No. 12, pp. 953-961. https://doi.org/10.1108/03068291111176310

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited