Skip main navigation

Where GDP is from, and what does that tell us?

GDP expert Diane Coyle explains where GDP came from, and how it reflects what people needed the state to do at that time

In this video, economist Diane Coyle takes us through the origins of GDP as a measure of economic growth and what this should mean for our assessment of it today.

She points out that the context in which GDP emerged, and the challenges the global economy faced at the time were very different than the ones we face today. At the time, GDP was developed as a tool to help understand the economy during the Great Depression, and then to make sure the economy could cope with the war effort during the Second World War. As she points out, if reflects the challenges of the times, and what we wanted the state to do at the time. Now, our economy faces a very different set of challenges.

What do you think?

Diane Coyle says that what the government measures reflects what we want it to do. If our measurements were made for the 20th century, how can they be updated for the 21st century?

This article is from the free online

Global Prosperity Beyond GDP

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Reach your personal and professional goals

Unlock access to hundreds of expert online courses and degrees from top universities and educators to gain accredited qualifications and professional CV-building certificates.

Join over 18 million learners to launch, switch or build upon your career, all at your own pace, across a wide range of topic areas.

Start Learning now