Undoubtedly, gross domestic product (GDP) is an essential economic measure that calculates the monetary value of final goods and services produced in a domestic economy in a given time period.
However, its failure to take into account voluntary work underestimates the economy's overall well-being.
A survey conducted by the National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre (NVPC) concludes that the number of volunteer hours has almost doubled from 2014 to 2016, owing to the fact that more people in Singapore are coming forward to give back to society.
Voluntary work has significant social, economic as well as moral benefits, which include creating a more close-knit community, spreading positive values such as graciousness and altruism, and inculcating love and care among people.
These benefits and economic value are not fully captured in the GDP as volunteering is unpaid, making it a non-market economic activity.
Recognising the value of what volunteers give to society and including it in the calculation of GDP will contribute to the provision of a more holistic and accurate representation of overall well-being in Singapore.
Rachana Ramanath Jamadagni, 18, Year 1 University student
CALLING YOUNG READERS:
If you are a student or aged 21 years or below, and want to air your opinion on any report or letter in The Straits Times, e-mail your letter to firstname.lastname@example.org, with the subject header “Voices of Youth”. Do include your age, school level and contact details, and the headline of the report/letter you refer to. Please keep to a length of 250 words.