Date: Thursday, April 10, Noon-1:30 p.m.

Location: Museum of Northern Arizona

In this week’s Hot Topics Café we’ll be discussing the best ways to measure the health of our economy. The most recognizable and widely used measure of an economy is the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The GDP of an economy is the value of all goods and services produced for a given period of time. But is GDP an adequate measure of economic and (more broadly) human progress? If not, what are the best alternatives? Simon Kuznets, the inventor of the GDP, had this to say about the matter: “The valuable capacity of the human mind to simplify a complex situation in a compact characterization becomes dangerous when not controlled in terms of definitely stated criteria. With quantitative measurements especially, the definiteness of the result suggests, often misleadingly, a precision and simplicity in the outlines of the object measured.”

Many alternatives to the GDP aim to measure more than the total economic output of an economy. Some take into account environmental costs, others take into account the distribution of assets, while still others assess individuals’ happiness. Which layers of value should we take into account when measuring the health of our economy? What principles should guide the development and use of such metrics?

The conversation begins here in our online forum. The forum will remain open until Friday at 8pm. There will also be a free, in-person discussion of our topic on Thursday, April 10, from 12:00-1:30pm at the Museum of Northern Arizona.

Hot Topics Café is a program that creates a forum for civil discourse about matters of significance to our communities. Unbiased information sheets present arguments on competing sides of a question, and give legislative histories or other relevant factual data. Members of the community are then invited to voice their views on the topic. Participants learn about the issues, and about alternative viewpoints in the community. Hot Topics Café is non partisan, and we do not endorse a position with respect to any issue discussed. We do not aim to achieve consensus or resolve issues, and this is one of the things that makes Hot Topics Cafés unique among programs designed to foster civil discourse.