September 14, 2009

Sarkozy wants GDP to include happiness

French President Nicolas Sarkozy says he agrees with a U.S. economist that happiness and well-being should be part of a country's gross national product.

Sarkozy on Monday voiced support for a new method of measuring economic output unveiled by a panel of international economists led by U.S. Nobel Prize winner Joseph Stiglitz that would include such factors as high-quality health services and long vacations, The Financial Times reported.

The Times said the panel, set up by Sarkozy last year, suggested that GDP could be better measured by accounting for satisfaction and the sustainability of a country's economy and natural resources. The French president has reportedly directed Insee, the French statistics agency, to devise a way to go about it.

Analysts told the newspaper that under such a system, France would gain in its GDP figures against the United States, which by current measures outpaces France's per capita GDP by 14 percentage points.

The world over, citizens think we are lying to them, that the (GDP) figures are wrong, that they are manipulated, Sarkozy said. And they have reasons to think like that.