Ghana claims to have become a middle income economy. I don’t know if this pronouncement has the seal of approval from the Master (the IMF / World Bank / USA) but Ghana’s Statistical Service claims their figures show it has reached the required level.

When I first heard the phrase, middle income economy, I had no idea what it meant and neither had anyone else I spoke to. Did it mean the middle class increases or that we all have more disposable income? Actually all it means is that Ghana’s GDP has reached a target determined by the international financial institutions. Yes that really is all it means.

GDP sounds like a good thing. It suggests the country and therefore the people have become richer. But GDP was never meant to measure the wealth of a nation. It only measures the market value of the goods and services produced by a country.

If the country’s crime increases and more security, police and prison services are invested in, that would increase GDP. If the family breaks down to the extent that more children’s homes and child support services are needed, GDP increases. My point is that GDP can increase while the social situation in a country deteriorates.

The phrase, middle income economy, is a con. It masks its true meaning by implying something positive. It could indeed indicate positive changes but is equally an indicator of negative changes.

GDP is misused to be a marker of success and now “middle income status” continues that fiction. The illusion, that economic development equals progress, lives on.