NEW ZEALAND ISN’T OBSESSED WITH ENSURING ECONOMIC GROWTH
Aruba, June 17, 2019 – What nation isn’t obsessed with ensuring economic growth? New Zealand, apparently.
Writing in 1930, John Maynard Keynes predicted that by 2030 we would work only 15 hours a week. Economic growth would lift our standard of living four- to eightfold, and the everyday citizen could finally stop plugging away.
As I’m sure we all realize, Keynes’ leisure-time predictions have not yet come to pass. Not because our standard of living hasn’t risen as a result of economic growth (in fact, his estimate was right on the mark), but because, even after life-changingly rapid advances over almost a century, we’ve just . . . carried on working. The United States is obsessed with ensuring continued economic growth. What modern nation isn’t?
New Zealand, as it turns out.
Last month, the island nation released its first “Wellbeing Budget.” Contra most national spending plans, the goal of the coming year’s appropriations is not to boost gross domestic product but to increase the happiness of the country’s citizens. In the next fiscal year, all of New Zealand’s noncore spending must be oriented toward five well-being goals: improving mental health, reducing child poverty, supporting indigenous people, transitioning to a low-emissions economy and thriving in a digital age. And to measure success, the government will track nontraditional indicators such as perceived environmental quality and sense of belonging.
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