A properly broad definition of prosperity can seem intangible and unquantifiable, but that does not make it less correct. As Friedrich Hayek lamented in 1975, “to an economist today … only that is true which can be proved statistically, and everything that cannot be demonstrated by statistics can be neglected.” GDP might appear a more straightforward and objective measure, but it is every bit as incomplete and reliant on value judgments as other metrics; it merely assigns 100 percent of its value to economic transactions and 0 percent to everything else. As a discrete metric for describing one dimension of economic performance, GDP provides useful information. But as the guidepost for public policy, its self-imposed isolation from factors critical to society’s flourishing encourages neglect.
Oren Cass, The Once and Future Worker