Economic indicators and the 2014 World Cup
Much has been made of anniversaries this year – the First World War (100th), the Civil Rights Act (50th), a Hard Day’s Night (50th) and even GDP (80th).
In 1934, Simon Kuznets came up with GDP (gross domestic product) figures as a measure of national income – the value of goods and services produced. The figure has taken on a great significance in recent years, with quarterly reports of the rate of increase in GDP making the national headlines.
GDP was never intended as a measure of anything other than the value of goods and services produced. Bobby Kennedy reminded us that it 'measures everything… except that which makes life worthwhile,' noting that it records the destruction of redwood forests but ignores poetic beauty.
Nowadays, there are many other measures which claim to represent a truth about one aspect of the economy – the Human Development Index, the Genuine Progress indicator, even a Happiness Index – each with a different slant and each making a judgement about 'what is important'.
Two classroom activities which may be of interest approach the issue from different perspectives:
- Measuring progress - This research activity encourages your students to explore different measures and come to some conclusions about their relative merits.
Go to the activity - Economics Unit 2.
- World Cup indicators - This group activity is based around the 32 countries that have qualified for the World Cup this summer and could be run as a competition with each round based on a different economic indicator. In this activity there is a winner!
Go to the activity - Economics Unit 2, Economics and Business Unit 3.