For instance, when assessing economic systems and determinants of economic growth, it is only logical to consider the consequences to the environment alongside measures of human standard of living. There is an emerging consensus among intellectuals and research scholars that there is indeed a strong correlation between the two concepts. In other words, it is rarely a coincidence that poverty thrives in hostile geographies and that affluence is usually seen in ambient landscapes. Apart from the literal sense of the word, ‘environment’ could also be taken to mean the political and socio-cultural context of a particular geographic space. Further, global capitalism has led to the practice of exploitation of cheap labour offered by Third World nations. So, while global capitalism, promoted and measured by the above mentioned determinants of economic growth, is further developing the length and breadth of its reach, it benefits certain sections of people while disadvantaging others (Thorsby, 2001).
Going by criteria such as GDP, per capita income, etc, one would conclude that the United Kingdom is one of the most prosperous and advanced countries in the world. But probing a little further, we find that there are sections of the population that lives in poverty and without access to life’s necessities. People both inside and outside the country associate it with abundant opportunity for work, prosperity and overall success. While these assessments are not completely imaginary, it does goes to suggest that beyond the ostensible wealth and opulence there is also widespread poverty (Eckersley, 2009). Seen in this backdrop, it does seem that there is a heavy price to be paid for sustaining economic growth. Hence factors such as access to healthcare, pollution levels of air and water, quality of education systems, functioning democratic systems, equitable distribution of key resources, etc also need to be included as criteria for evaluating the effectiveness of an economic system (Allen, et. Al., 2005).
In conclusion, it is quite clear that much of the criticism directed at prevailing methods of assessing economic systems and their key determinants is quite justified, especially in the context environmental degradation and inequitable distribution of wealth. The objections related to this practice can be seen as part of a broader critique of contemporary industrial societies such as the UK. These criticisms include deceptive mass advertisements, over-population, environment damage, toxic dumping, corporate greed, etc. A good starting point for reform would be the United Nations Human Development Index (HDI), which includes a broader list of parameters in assessing health, wealth and prosperity of a society. For example, in spite of being the leading global economy and military power, the United States is superseded by Scandinavian and Western European countries in the recent HDI index released by the United Nations (Eckersley, 2009). As ultimately all economic systems serve a social and political goal, it is important to evaluate their merits in this broader context, as opposed to strictly financial and statistical terms.
Weissman, R. (2003, July/August). Grotesque Inequality: Corporate Globalization and the Global Gap between Rich and Poor. Multinational Monitor, 24, 9+.
Allen, Robert C., Tommy Bengtsson, and Martin Dribe, eds. Living Standards in the Past: New Perspectives on Well-Being in Asia and Europe. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press, 2005.
John Sloman, Essentials Of Economics, Fourth Edition, ISBN: 978-0-273-70881-0
Dixon, John, and David Macarov, eds. Poverty: A Persistent Global Reality. London: Routledge, 1998.
Eckersley, Richard. “Is Life Really Getting Better?.” The Futurist Jan. 2009: 23+.
Thorsby, C.D. (2001). Economics and culture. Cambridge : Cambridge University Press (Retrieved on Oct, 21, 2009)