"For years, economists have worked to develop a way of measuring general well-being and comparing it across countries. The main metric has been differences in income or gross domestic product per person. But economists have long known that GDP is an imperfect measure of well-being, counting just the value of goods and services bought and sold in markets."
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"If you live in a city with modern sanitation, it’s hard to imagine daily life being permeated with the suffocating stench of human excrement. For that, we have a number of people to thank – not least a London watchmaker called Alexander Cumming. Cumming’s world-changing invention owed nothing to precision engineering. In 1775, he patented the S-bend. It was a bit of pipe with a curve in it and it became the missing ingredient to create the flushing toilet – and, with it, public sanitation as we know it. Roll-out was slow, but it was a vision of how public sanitation could be – clean, and smell-free – if only government would fund it. More than two centuries later, two and a half billion people still remain without improved sanitation, and improved sanitation itself is a low bar. We still haven’t reliably managed to solve the problem of collective action – of getting those who exercise power or have responsibility to organise themselves."
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This brings in the positive externalities of proper sanitation systems and how inadequate sanitation affects economic growth/development "across various African countries, for example, it reckons inadequate sanitation lops 1 or 2 percentage points off GDP; in India and Bangladesh, over 6 per cent; in Cambodia, 7 per cent."
"Six years ago, we traveled to a place where people are trying to live without government interference. A place where you can use bits of silver to buy uninspected bacon. A place where a 9-year-old will sell you alcohol."
Teacher of IB Economics at the American School of Budapest