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The Power of a Single Number – A Political History of GDP - Columbia Scholarship Online
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The Power of a Single Number: A Political History of GDP

Philipp Lepenies


Widely used since the mid-twentieth century, GDP (gross domestic product) has become the world’s most powerful statistical indicator of national development and progress. Practically all governments adhere to the idea that GDP growth is a primary economic target, and while criticism of this measure has grown, neither its champions nor its detractors deny its central importance in our political culture. In The Power of a Single Number, Philipp Lepenies recounts the lively history of GDP’s political acceptance—and eventual dominance. Locating the origins of GDP measurements in Renaissance Englan ... More

Keywords: History of GDP; History of Economic Concepts, History of Statistics, Political Economy of Statistics; Role of GDP in Politics

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2016 Print ISBN-13: 9780231175104
Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: January 2017 DOI:10.7312/columbia/9780231175104.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Philipp Lepenies, author
Free University of Berlin