Forum: Economic indicators don't capture the full story

As the Covid-19 outbreak continues, banks and credit rating agencies have raised alarms about Singapore's economic growth - from the downgrading of gross domestic product growth to warnings of an imminent recession.

In the midst of this gloomy news, we must remind ourselves what economic indicators such as GDP really measure.

They will measure the tourism industry's economic fallout, but not the time spent by scouts, girl guides and students writing letters of encouragement to healthcare workers. They'll measure the panic buying that emptied supermarket shelves, but not the generosity of neighbours who placed hand sanitisers in HDB lifts for others to use. They'll measure the shutdown of entertainment venues, but not the Singaporeans who opened their homes for stranded Malaysian workers to stay in.

We must remember to put these economic indicators into perspective; our economy will weaken, but that does not mean our nation's character and resolve must follow suit. Perhaps Robert F. Kennedy said it best, that GDP measures everything, except that which makes life worthwhile.

Fung Guan Jie