Home > Uncategorized > GDP comparisons across time

GDP comparisons across time

from Asad Zaman

This continues a sequence of posts aiming to show how apparently objective statistics conceal large numbers of arbitrary value judgements.  (1) Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics, (2) Subjectivity Concealed in Index Numbers, (3) The Values of a Market Society, (4) Cross-Country Comparisons of Wealth, (5) Purchasing Power Parity, (6) Downfall of Rhetoric in 20th Century, (7) Facts & Values: Distinction or Dichotomy?. This is the 8th post, which considers comparisons of GDP across time within a single country.

In comparisons across countries, we face the difficulty that the concept of “wealth” has varied across societies, and changed with time. The “average basket” of goods varies for each country, because different societies have different preferences and values. We cannot compare apples and oranges. It seems that these problems would be reduced if we considered a single society across time. The concept of wealth, and the average bundle of goods would remain relatively stable, at least across short periods of time. We will now discuss difficulties which arise when we consider growth across time, comparing GDP across the years for a single country.  read more

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