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America's Illusions of Growth

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arrow 15544 640America's Illusions of Growth -Project Syndicate
"National politics in the United States has become enslaved to macroeconomic indicators that have little bearing on true wellbeing. For many commentators, the snapshot growth rate of 3.2% for the first quarter of 2019, coupled with a decline in the unemployment rate to 3.6% in April, implies that President Trump's economic policies have been vindicated...

But this interpretation overlooks what these indicators fail to measure. And what they fail to measure happens to be what really counts for the public....Macroeconomic indicators hide much about the quality of life. For example, even while the US economy has expanded during recent years, America's public health crisis has continued to mount. The US has experienced two consecutive years of declining life expectancy, in 2016 and 2017 – the longest consecutive decline since World War I and the subsequent flu epidemic. Yet the current decline is caused by despair, not by illness. Suicide rates and opioid overdoses are soaring. Another alarming epidemic not captured by GDP or unemployment rates is the sharp rise in anxiety among Americans....It's time that economists, pundits, and politicians start looking holistically at life in our times, and take seriously the long-term structural changes needed to address the multiple crises of health care, despair, inequality, and stress in the US and many other countries."