“Genuine Progress Indicator”

July 16, 2008

For years, I’ve thought that our economic thermometer is broken. I left a corporate job to take care of my young kids and write freelance assignments from home. My family was wonderfully appreciative of what I did. But it didn’t take long to realize that what I did for most of the day — child care — meant nothing to the economy.

Thanks to our current economic measure, the Gross Domestic Product, my time had no value because no money exchanged hands. But if I had done the same work for someone else, and gotten paid for it, then my work would have “registered” with the economy and suddenly become valuable.

Similarly, when I provided help and transportation to my aging parents, my time was worth nothing. But if I had provided those services to other elderly people — for a fee — then suddenly my time would have become valuable to the economy.

So when I saw this article on the Internet, I smiled and said to myself, “Somebody gets it!”

Today, when so many people feel that we’re undergoing a recession — while our current economic thermometer says we’re not there — maybe the people are correct and our thermometer is broken.



  1. Good points, Cindy. Seems like the only time anyone ever attempted to put a dollar value (or an imaginary wage) on motherhood was around Mother’s Day, when clever columnists guessed what we’d be paid for all the jobs we do …

  2. Maybe the Bhutanese have it right: Gross National Happiness.


    – Bud

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