In recent years, conservatives have used stock market gains as a catch-all reason to defend Donald Trump. For decades, libertarians have pointed to long-term declines in the rate of extreme poverty to promote a profit-based economic system.
Both of these habits are indicative of putting to much value in economics. For the conservative, economic growth can hide a multitude of sins. For the libertarian, long-term material betterment for the many can justify immediate inequalities and exploitation for the few.
Economics are overrated though. It would be nice if one could simply look at positive income and stock market trends in a country and definitively say “this is a good place to live”, but you can’t and anyone who says otherwise is wearing blinders. There’s more to societal progress than economic growth. Take for example, the following chart:
This chart clearly shows a correlation between consumerist countries with higher GDPs and households consisting of only one adult. Now obviously correlation and causation aren’t the same thing, but I think a link between the two axes is undeniable. Even if no such link exists, this chart goes to show that economic growth and activity alone are no where near sufficient for judging the health of a society or the state of a country.
A “strong” economy by no means makes a place good, and a “weak” economy is by no means the end of the world.