The Gross Domestic Product (GDP), which measures the dollar value of finished goods and services produced by an economy during a given period, serves as the chief indicator of the economic well-being of the United States. The GDP assumes that the economic significance of goods and services lies solely in their price, and that these goods and services add to the national well-being, not because of any intrinsic value they may possess, but simply because they were produced and bought. Additionally, only those goods and services involved in monetary transactions are included in the GDP. Thus, the GDP ignores the economic utility of such things as a clean environment and cohesive families and communities. It is therefore not merely coincidental, since national policies in capitalist and non-capitalist countries alike are dependent on indicators such as the GDP, that both the environment and the social structure have been eroded in recent decades. Not only does the GDP mask this erosion, it can actually portray it as an economic gain: an oil spill off a coastal region “adds” to the GDP because it generates commercial activity. In short, the nation’s central measure of economic well-being works like a calculating machine that adds but cannot subtract.
1. The primary purpose of the passage is to:
(A) identify ways in which the GDP could be modified so that it would serve as a more accurate indicator of the economic well-being of the United States
(B) suggest that the GDP, in spite of certain shortcomings, is still the most reliable indicator of the economic well-being of the United States
(C) examine crucial shortcomings of the GDP as an indicator of the economic well-being of the United States
(D) argue that the growth of the United States economy in recent decades has diminished the effectiveness of the GDP as an indicator of the nation’s economic well-being
(E) discuss how the GDP came to be used as the primary indicator of the economic well-being of the United States
2. Which of the following best describes the function of the second sentence of the passage in the context of the passage as a whole?
(A) It describes an assumption about the GDP that is defended in the course of the passage.
(B) It contributes to a discussion of the origins of the GDP.
(C) It clarifies a common misconception about the use of the GDP.
(D) It identifies a major flaw in the GDP.
(E) It suggests a revision to the method of calculating the GDP.
3. It can be inferred that the author of the passage would agree with which of the following about the “economic significance” of those goods and services that are included in the GDP?
(A) It is a comprehensive indicator of a nation’s economic well-being.
(B) It is not accurately captured by the price of those goods and services.
(C) It is usually less than the intrinsic value of those goods and services.
(D) It is more difficult to calculate than the economic significance of those goods and services that are not included in the GDP.
(E) It is calculated differently in capitalist countries than in non-capitalist countries.
4. The comparison of the GDP to a calculating machine serves to do which of the following?
(A) Refute an assertion that the calculations involved in the GDP are relatively complex in nature
(B) Indicate that the GDP is better suited to record certain types of monetary transactions than others
(C) Suggest that it is likely that the GDP will be supplanted by other, more sophisticated economic indicators
(D) Illustrate the point that the GDP has no way of measuring the destructive impact of such things as oil spills on the nation’s economic well-being
(E) Exemplify an assertion that the GDP tends to exaggerate the amount of commercial activity generated by such things as oil spills
5. The passage implies that national policies that rely heavily on economic indicators such as the GDP tend to-
(A) become increasingly capitalistic in nature
(B) disregard the economic importance of environmental and social factors that do not involve monetary transactions
(C) overestimate the amount of commercial activity generated by environmental disasters
(D) overestimate the economic significance of cohesive families and communities
(E) assume that the economic significance of goods and services does not lie solely in the price of those goods and services
6. It can be inferred that the author of the passage would agree with which of the following assessments of the GDP as an indicator of the economic well-being of the United States?
(A) It masks social and environmental erosion more fully than the chief economic indicators of other nations.
(B) It is based on inaccurate estimations of the prices of many goods and services.
(C) It overestimates the amount of commercial activity that is generated in the United States.
(D) It is conducive to error because it confl ates distinct types of economic activity.
(E) It does not take into account the economic utility of certain environmental and social conditions