On May 4, U. Secretary of Defense Donald H.
Advances in understanding, theory and measurement must necessarily proceed hand in hand. A companion article in this publication sets forth the urgent need for new theory in economics. This article sets forth the complementary need for new measures.
The stakes are high and the choice is ours. The challenge is to derive more appropriate indicators to reflect real, sustainable economic welfare, social development and human wellbeing.
The attributes that have made GDP so successful are often overlooked — it provides clear objectives for policy and decision-making.
The index is applied to assess the economic performance of select countries from Tools and Measures Human beings are distinguished from other life forms by their unique ability to fashion tools which extend our powers of consciousness beyond the reach of our senses and our powers of execution beyond the limits of strength, endurance, space and time imposed by our physical bodies.
Tools are an instrument for social evolution.
Language is a tool which enables us to formulate original ideas, communicate our inmost thoughts and feelings, record events for posterity, transmit knowledge down through the ages, and exchange ideas over vast expanses of time and space. The efficiency of our tools is an index of our social development.
Measurement is another remarkable human ability. Modern medicine could not exist without the thermometer, stethoscope, sphygmomanometer and glucometer, along with measures for blood cell count, hemoglobin, cholesterol, and countless other metrics.
Today every food ingredient is carefully measured for its exact nutritional content. It is both a tool and a measure. But unlike other measures that are confined to measuring a single dimension or quality, money has the capacity of assigning value to almost anything material or immaterial — physical objects, human labor, social status, information, obedience, loyalty and sometimes even love.
Coinage enabled ancient kingdoms to become military and economic powers, because it facilitated standardized valuation of products and services for the financing and maintenance of huge armies. The concept of zero was unknown to the Greeks and Romans.
Developed independently in India and Mexico, it reached Europe via Arabia only in the 10th century. One need only try adding and multiplying Roman numerals to realize how greatly the introduction of Hindu-Arabic numerals, the zero, and the decimal place enhanced the capacity for accounting and the growth of trade.
Combined with double-entry bookkeeping, they spurred the commercial revolution in 13th century Italy, facilitating the precise calculation of capital and profit. The Domesday Book is a record of the first known numerical census conducted by William I of England in to identify arable lands, livestock, fisheries and other sources of national wealth as a basis for improved tax collection.
The first US census was conducted in Today economics employs a wide range of indispensable measuring tools, including GDP, the consumer price index, interest rate, money supply, exchange rate and the unemployment rate.
While the general public may regard these tools as accurate measures of economic reality, economists recognize that they are in fact only rough, approximate indicators designed to reflect economic reality rather than accurately measure it.
Right measurement is a powerful instrument for social progress, which is why efforts are constantly being made to improve their power and precision. The atomic clock has replaced the sundial, hourglass and pendulum.
DNA fingerprinting has largely replaced hand fingerprinting as a precise means for identifying human beings. Global satellite navigation has made the chronometer obsolete. The 20th century has been aptly described as The First Measured Century in recognition of the enormous recent strides in harnessing the power of measurement.
Today humanity pursues a common quest for higher standards of living, greater economic security, sustainable development, higher levels of welfare and well-being.
For decades, the very intensity of the pursuit for a better life obscured the inadequacy of our conceptions and our instruments for achieving it. But in recent decades we are compelled by social, economic and environmental challenges to seek more precise definitions of what we mean by these terms and more exact tools for measuring our progress toward achieving them.What makes us different?
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Most of us sense that taking a walk in a forest is good for us. We take a break from the rush of our daily lives. We enjoy the beauty and peace of being in a natural setting. Get Full Text in PDF.
Table of Contents. Introduction; Tools and Measures; Measures of National Income; Need for New Theory; Measures and Indicators; Characteristics of a Successful Indicator. JOIN US ON OUR JOURNEY Our environment is facing so many pressures, from plastic pollution to climate change, from habitat destruction to the unsustainable use of .
IN WATCHING the flow of events over the past decade or so, it is hard to avoid the feeling that something very fundamental has happened in world history.