The way governments talk, you'd think that economic growth was the only thing that mattered. But a report from the OECD shows that they are focusing on the wrong things:
New Zealanders are satisfied with their lives even though they are not especially rich, figures released by the OECD have revealed.While the OECD found a relationship between net national income and happiness [PDF], we are very much an outlier to that trend. The happiest country - Denmark - is also an outlier, having a middling income compared to the OECD, but much higher happiness due to its equal society (I should also note that other studies which include more poor countries show a much flatter relationship at the top end - not starving contributing more to happiness than not getting an iPod).
The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development's latest Society at a Glance report shows Kiwis rank sixth out of 30 in terms of overall satisfaction with life but are in the bottom third in terms of income per capita.
The upshot: economic growth is just a means to an end. We do pretty well in achieving that end already, and more growth won't necessarily help us do any better. In fact, the present government's policies for "promoting it" - tax cuts to their rich friends, weaker social protections and employment rights - seem designed to undermine it. But that's what happens when you only care about the happiness of the tiny number of uber-rich at the top, rather than of society as a whole.