Andrew Haldane: Ideas and institutions - a growth story

Speech by Mr Andrew G Haldane, Executive Director and Chief Economist of the Bank of England, to The Guild Society, University of Oxford, 23 May 2018.

The views expressed in this speech are those of the speaker and not the view of the BIS.

Central bank speech  | 
27 July 2018

Economic growth has been among the greatest gifts given to us, as individuals and societies. It may no longer be fashionable to say so. Measures of economic growth, like Gross Domestic Product (GDP), can be highly imperfect metrics of how well individuals and societies are faring, their subjective sense of well-being. And growth in income and output is not, of course, an end in itself.

Nonetheless, it is now pretty well-established that growth is a vital ingredient, indeed pre-requisite, for meeting many of the broader societal objectives many would view as important to our longer-term health, wealth and happiness. While not an end in itself, economic growth appears to be a vitally important means of achieving those societal ends.

Economic growth is the main reason why global levels of poverty and rates of infant mortality have fallen spectacularly over recent centuries. It is why longevity and educational standards have risen secularly over the same period. And growth may even have contributed to the incidence of global conflicts and wars having fallen to their lowest levels, perhaps in human history.