I was thinking about the value of those products and services which are needed to sustain people's lives and to expand people's lives, and how unaware I'm of a metric that measures actually this. I know GDP doesnt measure this. The inclusion in GDP of services which to me doesnt have any value in this sense, and later using GDP as a measure of a country progress doesn't make sense to me. For example, according to this

Rethinking GDP

Yet as a statistic, it is surprisingly poor as a means of actually measuring what it is supposed to measure. It measures a rough aggregate of the total number of transactions made within a given country. It's used primarily because it is easy to calculate, but it does not really matter to this calculation whether the transactions involved are used when building new houses or repairing houses after a hurricane. Building a bomb, throwing a lavish party, or paying for school, it doesn't matter much what the transactions actually do, the statistic is only really concerned with the amount of money passed between hands.

So if I go to an arcade, and I spend money in it playing videogames, I'm growing GDP?

So I was wondering,

Is there any metric to measure the creation of products and services needed to sustain and expand life?

By sustaining life I mean, food, shelter, electricity, water, health care, etc. and by expanding life I mean development of technology and science in this sense.

I could understand that exporting a service would bring money to a country which later could be used to buy these things. That could make sense to be included in a metric like the one I'm looking for. But services which are pure for entertainment or comestic procedures or things in those lines doesnt make any sense to me to be included in a metric which is used to measure progress.


1 Answer 1


“So if I go to an arcade, and I spend money in it playing videogames, I'm growing GDP?”

Yes this is correct.

“Is there any metric to measure the creation of products and services needed to sustain and expand life?”

The national accounts reported by most statistical offices are often subdivided into different sectors such as agriculture, industry etc. if you would want you could exclude entertainment industry but nobody is doing that as an official separate measure because in economics we care about all humans needs not only the most basic ones like shelter etc. and entertainment is actually an important human need. However, you are free to make any measure of “progress” as you define it from those separate accounts. You can for example check gross product or gross value added by sector for European countries at Eurostat website.

  • $\begingroup$ That's a good answer but classifing entertainment sectors as "needs" I completely disagree. Not only people didnt have any impact in their life expectancies for centuries for not having the entertainments that they have today, but also imagine that a person in certain countries can be released from prison because they stole food they needed because it's a need, and now compare that to people arguing they stole videogames because it's their "need to be entertained with modern entertainment". $\endgroup$
    – Pablo
    Commented Feb 29, 2020 at 14:40
  • $\begingroup$ @Pablo you should google Maslow’s pyramid of human needs. As a matter of fact entertainment is an important psychological human need. It’s also not true that humans in past had entertainment at the same quality and level as today, I know of no research/statistics that would support that. In past most people had to make their own entertainment, nowadays anyone can get the best performers in their TV/radios etc. Also argumentation by laws is a fallacy. In some countries laws force healthcare companies to cover homeopathy as medicine but that does not make it a medicine. $\endgroup$
    – 1muflon1
    Commented Feb 29, 2020 at 14:49

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