Feeling Relaxed? Now Put a Price On It

Let's say you're outside, it's a warm summer afternoon, you're sipping an iced tea... no wait that has too much caffeine, better make it a lemonade. The sky is so blue and clear it almost hurts to look at. You're in a hammock and it's swaying gently in the summer breeze. Feeling... relaxed?

So what was that pleasant moment worth to you? Five dollars? Twenty dollars?

How much is an afternoon playing baseball with your kids worth? Or playing bluegrass music with your friends?

The State of Maryland is calculating and quantifying moments just like these as part of their Genuine Progress Indicator, an "index for sustainable prosperity," and today they're releasing their latest numbers.

Frank Skinner, Director of Special Projects in the Maryland Department of Labor explains:

We're looking at the economic impact of the reduction in amount of discretionary time an individual may have. What we assume is that when folks have leisure they'll engage in productive activities, social events with family, exercise... but when they have more work commitments what happens is that due to the reduction in leisure time there's an economic value that we can assess from that.

GPI puts a dollar value on not just leisure, but also house work and volunteering. They also subtract from GPI the cost of crime, divorce and water pollution.

As the search for alternatives to the sleepy ol' GDP continues to be trendy, a number of states are trying out the GPI, particularly with an eye to environmental and sustainability issues.

About the author

Amanda Aronczyk is a public radio reporter and producer.

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