Refugees flee wars, poverty and political oppression in search of a secure and stable life. Such a life is a human right, not a luxury, but GDP doesn’t measure how safe people are, or whether they have a secure income. Instead, it feeds wars through the arms trade, encourages poverty through low-paid, exploitative employment and creates conditions for political oppression by favouring profitable economic activity over environmental and human rights.
The refugee crisis is a further consequence of the rising inequality caused by the relentless pursuit of the transactional money activity that GDP measures. Multi-national corporations, encouraged by powerful governments, increase this activity – and the profits available to investors – often at the expense of local populations whose lives are disrupted by resource extraction, inappropriate development, land appropriation, deforestation, environmental pollution, loss of traditional agriculture and industries, and may other exploitative factors.
Similarly, GDP counts arms manufacturing and the international arms trade as useful economic activity. Many governments champion their arms industries for this reason, which fuel – directly or indirectly – conflict zones around the world.