How Well GDP Measures the Well-Being of Society

The level of GDP per capita clearly captures some of what we mean by the phrase “standard of living.” Most of the migration in the world, for example, involves people who are moving from countries with relatively low GDP per capita to countries with relatively high GDP per capita.

“Standard of living” is a broader term than GDP. While GDP focuses on production that is bought and sold in markets, standard of living includes all elements that affect people’s well-being, whether they are bought and sold in the market or not. To illuminate the difference between GDP and standard of living, it is useful to spell out some things that GDP does not cover that are clearly relevant to standard of living.

1 of 9