Measure More than GDP!

By Shannon Hughes
July 11, 2011

What if we cared enough about our wellness as people to run statistics about it on a ticker in Times Square? In the Philippines, governors compete for prestige by reporting on and their economic accomplishments, but also their people’s rank according to  the United Nations’ Human Development Index. Government in the US, however, doesn’t officially use this data, instead focusing on stock prices and the GDP to tell us something about the success of our country.

Sarah Burd-Sharps, co-author of The Measure of America, knows that we can’t stop there. By calculating a single number based on the three basic standards of the Human Development Index – health, education, and income –The Measure of America gives us another look at how America measures up. Not surprisingly, inequalities abound across gender, race, and geography. The good news is, we can visit and understand the places that are doing well, and strategically focus policies to decreases the “entire century of progress [that] separates New Jersey’s Asian Americans and South Dakota’s Native Americans” in terms of life expectancy. Check out this video to hear Burd-Sharps explain her work more fully. Ready for more facts? Check out for interactive resources including a Common Good Forecaster and a personal Well-o-Meter.

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