Interesting piece by Matt Yglesias on recent arguments that the growth of free stuff on the internet creates social benefits that fail to be captured by GDP. I’d just note that this problem is nothing new--GDP numbers have never captured the unpaid home and childcare work done by (mostly) women. E.g.: If a woman stays home to take care of her 2-year-old, she’s not contributing anything to GDP. But if she pays someone else to watch her 2-year-old while she works, the money she pays that person is counted towards GDP.
This has always struck me as stupid, and it also has some slightly screwy impacts on our public debates about education issues like whether we can afford to pay for pre-k or the costs of home school or cyber learning programs.
The opinions expressed in Sara Mead’s Policy Notebook are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.