Skip to main content
Close contact information
Get in touch

Josef Hargrave

Global foresight manager

Phone icon +44 (0) 20 7636 1531
Close contact information

What does GDP mean?

What does GDP mean?

Josef Hargrave
Global Foresight Manager
foresight@arup.com
+44 (0) 20 7636 1531

The measure GDP (gross domestic product) receives a mixed press

Politicians, the business community and economic commentators hang on each quarterly release. With emotive descriptors, everyone yearns to get out of a depression and into growth. Contrast this with GDP’s critics who vilify its focus on monetised transactions, saying it ignores unpaid work, activities in the home and nature’s contributions. Worse still, an increase in GDP extracts more of the earth’s generous bounty and pollution clean-up counts as production.
This publication takes neither position but simply sets out to explain what GDP means.

Behind the single metric is a firmly established methodology of data collection. Whether you are interested in economics or not, the definitions in this methodology provide a useful language to access a rich data resource and discuss its implications. GDP components are complemented with energy, jobs, travel and balance of payments.

Have You Wondered What GDP Means? is a door to understanding data so they can be used the right way, appreciating both their qualities and limitations. It is only from such a position that we can progress with the big questions, such as cutting carbon dioxide emissions while maintaining economic viability.