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