GDP doesn’t always equate to the economy. This is particularly true for wellness because of its ambivalent relationship with GDP. The two are in fact bad bedfellows and the reason is this: what goes into economic growth, as accounted for in GDP measurement, is essentially our ‘busyness’ – or, roughly speaking, the more we work, the more GDP growth we get.
There is a caveat of course. Working too hard entails marginal decreasing rates of return (fewer units of GDP per extra hour worked) and causes endless suffering. The obsession exhibited in some corners of tech and finance that worship ‘total’ work (like Silicon Valley or Wall Street) makes most people miserable by preventing them from focusing on the things that matter most in terms of well-being: love, friendship, a sense of purpose, daydreaming, social connections, etc. Put simply: working 18 hours a day contributes to GDP, but not to well-being. In contrast, seeing a friend or walking in nature contributes to well-being, but not to GDP.
So, where is the middle ground?
It’s hard to tell, for it’s defined by evolving social norms, but our conviction is that, in the coming years, living a simpler, yet more fulfilling life will become a central component of the wellness proposition. Less fancy vacations, less sophisticated wellness propositions, fewer tech devices, more time-off with family and friends, and a reconnection with nature. The bottom-line for investors: wellness will boom more than ever, but perhaps in less familiar guises and there may not be quite as much money to be made, as some believe.