An internationally renowned commentator on global economies called for a rethink on the way countries measure prosperity during his guest lecture at the University of Strathclyde.
Hosted by Strathclyde’s International Public Policy Institute (IPPI) in partnership with Oxfam GB, Professor Lorenzo Fioramonti argued that notions of GDP (Gross Domestic Product) do not represent a nation’s prosperity, but rather, can mask true deprivation. He said it can be counterproductive to real prosperity by widening the gap between the rich and poor by creating an environment benefiting big corporations at the expense of small business and working classes.
Professor Fioramonti believes that GDP growth compels for increasing production at all costs, even when this means harder conditions for workers and families. He suggests it destroys informal economic systems, which are a critical safety net for many people, and replaces them with formal market activities, which benefit a small few.
He also outlined his alternative vision for the future, including the positive transformations that could be achieved through a post-GDP system of development.
David Wilson, Executive Director at IPPI said: “We were honoured to welcome Professor Fioramonti to Strathclyde. With our international outlook and willingness to engage with challenging viewpoints, the University is a fitting place for a global thinker such as Lorenzo to share his ideas in Scotland for the first time.”
Professor Lorenzo Fioramonti said: “In many ways, Scotland has begun to experiment with a post-growth development model. New indicators of prosperity have been proposed and the 2014 referendum helped revitalize participation in local communities, as well as volunteering.
“In GDP terms, Scotland many be small. But in terms of wellbeing it should be seen as a leading voice in the world. This is another important impact of a post-growth governance system: wasteful, polluting and unequal ‘big countries’ would be seen as more backward and underdeveloped than regional economies pursuing greater equality and sustainability like Scotland.”
Dr Katherine Trebeck, Senior Researcher at Oxfam and Senior Honorary Research Fellow at Strathclyde who chaired the event, said: “The fault lines of our economic system are currently being prised open by populist politicians preying on the failure of economic policy to deliver social justice. We must recognise that as a nation, and through our government’s policy makers, to make a real impact on our true prosperity, we have to look beyond GDP. Otherwise, inequalities between the haves and the have nots will continue to increase, and the environment will be seen as simply an input to growth.”