Why we can no longer worship at GDP’s altar | Letters

Larry Elliott (Opinion, 30 November) is absolutely right to question a fixation on growth at all costs. We know that infinite economic growth simply isn’t compatible with a planet of finite resources, and we also know that the treatment of environmental concerns as “externalities” in pursuit of never-ending GDP increases is incredibly damaging. So if we know that growth is environmentally damaging, and not a guarantee of increased wellbeing, how do we shift our focus towards a new measure of a good society?

We need a new set of indicators that better reflect genuine wellbeing. For a start I would suggest we should aim to share out paid work more widely and evenly, and increase the amount of positive leisure time people have, giving them more choice about time with their communities, friends and family. The Green party’s calls for a shorter working week are often attacked as being anti-growth, but that misses the point of policymaking that should surely be to serve people rather than worship at the altar of GDP.

It feels like Britain is ready for a real conversation about what makes for a good life, and I for one am looking forward to the time when growth figures are considered an old-fashioned way of monitoring progress.

Caroline Lucas MP

Green, Brighton Pavilion

The current obsession with productivity focuses too much on manufacturing, which comprises 10% of the nation’s economy; 60% is made up of service industries. Let’s review what this might mean in terms of usefulness: the numbers of financial operatives selling each other debt, encouraging us to take on more debt, or appearing productive due to a rising stock market; or south-eastern estate agents being productive due to rising house prices. Could we have a more measured approach to productivity that might capture some more useful aspects?

Ian McCalman

Newcastle upon Tyne