I have recently finished reading the spirt level and written a review, despite the reveiw I have further comments to make on the book.
Changing Ecomonic/Government objectives
Chasing ecomonic growth has been the primary objective for nations for along time, however, the other macro economic objectives have changed prioty over time.
During the reign of Margret Thatcher the UK focused on Inflation
The trade ballance was once prioitised but is now less favourable (US and UK having massive defficites)
The PSNCR was not seen as a problem to the Labour Government as much as it was to the new Con-dem government, whose recent budget was focused on reducing debt
GDP has always been the priority, with real growth being the holy grail of economics, however, I feel the wind of change!
New measures have been appearing recently, the happiness index, the HDI and recently I worked on my own measure (as part of a school project in which we dealt with the ideas of 'is GDP best?'), these are questioning GDP as the diffinitive way of bettering society.
With global warming the push is now away from consuming more and giving out more fumes, this is hard to do while increasing GDP (although we are trying) so many researchers are suggesting we could move way from it. Books such as the Spirt Level and other research suggests after a point GDP stops bettering us.
The Spirit Level offers us a new target to chase, Equality! No more: as long as everyone is getting a bit richer. The new Conservitive buzz word: fair tries to strike the right cord with idealist of the book although their polices are debatable..
In psychology we are taught never to assume, the spirt level breaks many assumptions. Such as highlighting that infact given a choice most of use chose to be fair freely and will punish others at our own loss to restore some justice. It also agrues: not just mangers are stressed, obesity is not caused by stupidity, society is getting more depressed (particularly youth) and many more!
It really is an interesting read, even if you don't take it's ideas to heart or go into it thinking you never will