Economic growth is not an end in itself, but policy makers pursue it because richer countries are better able to provide health, jobs and a clean environment for their people, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said on Saturday.
In a commencement speech at the University of South Carolina, Bernanke did not directly address the outlook for the economy and monetary policy.
The Fed chairman did urge students not to choose their careers based on purely monetary rewards.
Having a larger income is exciting at first, but as you get used to your new standard of living, and as you associate with other people in your new income bracket, the thrill quickly wears off, Bernanke said in prepared remarks.
Gross domestic product is not itself the final objective of policy. Still, officials rely on growth measures to calibrate their policies because stronger economies are better at creating opportunity, he said.
The policy goals of promoting economic growth and employment, though not -- as we have seen -- the only appropriate goals, are worthwhile nonetheless, he said.
(Reporting by Pedro Nicolaci da Costa; Editing by Leslie Adler)