"Economists have a tendency to adopt a notion of well-being that is often too narrow, some version of income or material consumption. And yet all of us need much more than that to have a fulfilling life: the respect of the community, the comforts of family and friends, dignity, lightness, pleasure.
The focus on income alone is not just a convenient shortcut. It is a distorting lens that often has led the smartest economists down the wrong path, policy makers to the wrong decisions, and all too many of us to the wrong obsessions. It is what persuades so many of us that the whole world is waiting at the door to take our well-paying jobs. It is what has led to a single-minded focus on restoring the Western nations to some glorious past of fast economic growth. It is what makes us simultaneously deeply suspicious of those who don’t have money and terrified to find ourselves in their shoes. It is also what makes the trade-off between the growth of the economy and the survival of the planet seem so stark.
A better conversation must start by acknowledging the deep human desire for dignity and human contact, and to treat it not as a distraction, but as a better way to understand each other, and to set ourselves free from what appear to be intractable oppositions. Restoring human dignity to its central place, we argue in this book, sets off a profound rethinking of economic priorities and the ways in which societies care for their members, particularly when they are in need."
(excerpt taken from the book "Good Economics for Hard Times: Better Answers to Our Biggest Problems" by Abhijit V. Banerjee, Esther Duflo)
(Abhijit Banerjee, Esther Duflo and Michael Kremer were awarded the 2019 Nobel prize in economics )