The Growth Delusion review: David Pilling on problems measuring the economy

The Growth Delusion

David Pilling

Bloomsbury, $29.99

It has been observed that "Mathematics brought rigour to economics. Unfortunately, it also brought mortis." David Pilling cites this remark to stress the limitations of yardsticks such as GDP that  create the illusion of a measurable entity known as the economy. "The economy is not real. It is merely one way of imagining our world." While much of this lively book is concerned with exposing the shortcomings of GDP – it reveals nothing about the distribution of wealth, fails to value government services, clean air or well-being – Pilling is not suggesting it be ditched, just that it not be treated as the sole means of assessing the state of the nation. With humour and a gift for making the arcane accessible, he argues for scepticism about what's left out of growth statistics, and for more nuanced ways of measuring what matters.