Mike pointed me to an article in Wired on how GDP is failing as a national success indicator.
Since the time of Adam Smith, we’ve used the wealth of nations as a proxy for the well-being of nations. We measure whether life is getting better by checking whether the good numbers (GDP, personal incomes, and so on) are going up and the bad numbers (unemployment, inflation, and so on) are going down. However, over the past half century, something strange has happened. The US’s per capita GDP – the value of all the goods and services a nation produces divided by its population – has nearly tripled, but American well-being hasn’t budged. We’ve grown almost three times richer but not one jot happier. There’s ample evidence that in all postindustrial societies, material wealth and broader happiness are no longer closely in sync.
I’d actually take it one step further: GDP growth probably causes a decline in happiness, since GDP growth means people are focused on increasing production. And increased production makes noone happier. That takes something else entirely.