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A Nobelist on government’s role, the power of ideas, and how to measure progress: An interview with Paul Romer

Paul Romer

By Paul Romer & Rik Kirkland (Original source McKinsey)

“Inequality is rising within developed economies, and net incomes are flat or falling as well. But GDP per capita is steadily rising in these countries at the same time. Are we measuring the wrong metric when it comes to progress?

In this interview with McKinsey’s Rik Kirkland, the Nobel Prize-winning economist suggests an alternative measurement to GDP per capita and talks about how innovations, the market, and governments work together to create progress for everybody.

How ideas sustain growth

I worked on the specifics of how technology leads to economic growth. And I think it’s very important with a term like growth that you have some idea of a metric. So, GDP per capita is the established metric.

And it’s not perfect, but it clarifies our conversations if we stay focused on a measure because if we start throwing around different measures, we end up getting confused. So, in terms of GDP per capita, part of what I showed was that ideas are incredibly powerful and incredibly encouraging, because they can sustain growth even in a world where objects and resources are scarce.”

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