Akshat Rathi wrote an article for Bloomerg titled How ‘Degrowth’ Pushes Climate and Well-Being Over GDP.

« What does degrowth mean? It’s a challenge to the dogma surrounding economic growth and the maxim that more is better. It envisions focusing on improving human well-being, rather than constant economic growth, and doing so within certain “planetary boundaries” to tackle problems such as global warming and the loss of biodiversity. The idea is that developed nations would embrace zero growth or even shrinking GDP in favor of building an economy that makes humans healthier and happier — without necessarily aiming to increase the country’s total wealth. With populations shrinking in many developed nations, that doesn’t even have to mean a loss in income at the personal level. »

« Degrowth advocates argue that constant economic growth cannot ever be sustainable because it’s impossible to completely decouple it from resource use.  »

« The demand for goods and services from rich countries helps fuel growth in poor ones, pulling hundreds of millions of people out of poverty since the 1990s alone. »

« There is a growing consensus that a rise in GDP isn’t necessarily the best way to measure a country’s progress. Other indicators such as life expectancy, access to health care, educational attainment, poverty levels and even happiness are likely to provide a more holistic picture. Nobel Prize-winning economists Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo from MIT have shown that specific policy interventions, such as paying parents to keep their kids in school, are much better at improving those metrics than GDP growth alone. Many mainstream economists, including the University of Houston’s Dietrich Vollrath, argue that slow growth may be a sign of an economy’s maturity rather than weakness. »

« The movement, which has its roots in the 1972 book Limits to Growth by a team of researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, hasn’t gained wide acceptance.  »

The lead author of Limits to Growth was Donella H. Meadows. By coincidence, I recently reviewed her book Thinking in Systems. She makes some references to growth in that book as well.

“Maybe the worst mistake of this kind has been the adoption of the [GDP] as the measure of national economic success… It measures effort rather than achievement, gross production and consumption rather than efficiency. New light bulbs that give the same light with one-eighth the electricity and that last ten times as long make the [GDP] go down… [GDP] is a measure of throughput—flows of stuff made and purchased in a year—rather than capital stocks.”

“Growth has costs as well as benefits, and we typically don’t count the costs—among which are poverty and hunger, environmental destruction, and so on—the whole list of problems we are trying to solve with growth! What is needed is much slower growth, very different kinds of growth, and in some cases no growth or negative growth…. The world’s leaders are correctly fixated on economic growth as the answer to virtually all problems, but they’re pushing with all their might in the wrong direction.”

Noah Smith wrote an argument against degrowth titled Put a Stop to Economic Growth? Huge Mistake.

Related books:


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