GDP: Out, Joie de Vivre: In

I've been so wrapped up in the preparation for the one-year anniversary of the financial melt-down, that I've blown off working out, physical therapy appointments and my friends. This is not a great revelation - we're all working harder than ever, which is why I was drawn to a story this week about alternative ways to measure economic output.

In a speech at the Sorbonne on Monday, French President Nicolas Sarkozy proposed that from now on, France would gauge the economy's health by considering well-being in addition to GDP. Who but a French president could make this proclamation?


The French have always seemed quite good at enjoying their lives - they even have a term to describe it: "Joie de Vivre", which literally means "the joy of living." President Sarkozy suggested that possible measures of general happiness (or maybe the "Joie de Vivre Index (JdV)", might include: employment levels, health care, vacation, household assets and income, consumption and education.

Considering that new data from the Census bureau indicate the incomes of young and middle-aged have plummeted since 2000, it may be time for the US to consider our own version of the French JdV index.

Here's my list - feel free to suggest your own variable to include in my not-so-scientific analysis:
•Time spent reading non-financial material
•Number of work-outs per week
•Meals prepared at home (delivery not included!)
•Number of 7-8 hour nights of sleep
•Theater/Opera attendance

This post originally appeared The Financial Decoder blog on CBS Jill Schlesinger is the Editor-at-Large for CBS Prior to the launch of MoneyWatch, she was the Chief Investment Officer for an independent investment advisory firm. In her infancy, she was an options trader on the Commodities Exchange of New York.
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    Jill Schlesinger, CFP®, is the Emmy-nominated, Business Analyst for CBS News. She covers the economy, markets, investing and anything else with a dollar sign on TV, radio (including her nationally syndicated radio show), the web and her blog, "Jill on Money." Prior to her second career at CBS, Jill spent 14 years as the co-owner and Chief Investment Officer for an independent investment advisory firm. She began her career as a self-employed options trader on the Commodities Exchange of New York, following her graduation from Brown University.