Activity 6-2
Gross Production vs. Genuine Progress



· To learn about ways of measuring economic success and progress based on health, equity and sustainability

· To develop a broader understanding of wealth to include health, happiness and balance with nature



Two-three class periods


Students should demonstrate their ability to think about their own values and the needs of society in a one page free-writing assignment. Students should participate in a whole class discussion on economic indicators for the future and complete answers to GPI packet.


raw materials sustainable indicators defensive expenditures

GPI sustainable yield income distribution

renewable resources

Suggested Procedure

1. Introduce the idea that what we use as a measure of our success are the things we think are important. We want to come up with alternatives to GDP for measuring the health of our economy, but first we must identify what we really care about, what it is we value. Have the students write for five-ten minutes on five things they would want for themselves in ideal conditions and five things they would want for society as a whole.

2. Gather ideas orally from the students and put them on the chalkboard. These are the things that we care about . . .

3. Once there are at least 10 'values' on the board, ask the students to work in pairs to develop ideas for how we might be able to measure our progress in these things that are important to us. Some possible indicators are life expectancy, infant mortality, literacy, access to clean water, rate of population growth, share of raw materials being recycled, rate of soil erosion, percentage of energy from renewable resources, diversity of species, income distribution and incidence of stress related disease. Record their work on the board.

4. Pass out the handout Economic Indicators for a Sustainable Society and go through the list clarifying the terms and concepts that students do not understand. Compare these to the indicators generated by the class and add any that seem appropriate. Students should all have a working understanding of these terms.

5. Have students work in pairs to complete answers to the packet.

6. Debrief with class. Review categories, statistics and the questions.

Additional Activity:

Have the students bring in news clippings that give information on the state of the things they listed as important, e.g. education, health, clean water, clean air, sanitation, income distribution. Over the next few weeks create a collage of news clippings in the classroom that reflect the economic health and priorities of our country.


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