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China’s Green Economist Stirring A Shift Away From GDP [Headlines]

Niu Wenyuan's 'quality index' measures the economy not just by size, but by sustainability, social equality and ecological impact.

Amelia Riley Swan
  • 18 september 2011

Of all the efforts to improve China‘s environment, there are probably none as arcane and potentially important as the statistical re-evaluation being pioneered by Niu Wenyuan.

This senior economist and government adviser is trying to clean up his polluted country one data set at a time and, in the process, wean political leaders off their obsession with GDP growth. It is an uphill task. Eight years ago, Niu tried and failed to introduce a “green GDP”, which would have factored environmental costs into measurements of China’s economic progress.

That proposal was killed off by provincial leaders who feared their GDP achievements – and promotion prospects – would be undermined by a full accounting of the damage being done to the environment. Undaunted, Niu has returned to the fray with a new “GDP quality index” that measures the economy not just by size, but by sustainability, social equality and ecological impact. Guardian

Photo: APEC

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