In the February 10, 2020 issue of The New Yorker magazine, journalist John Cassidy has a very interesting article called Can we have prosperity without growth? (In the print version, the article is titled “Steady State.”)
Cassidy surveys a wide spectrum of opinion among people who say we need to rethink our attachment to, or obsession with economic growth. Here are some highlights and links from the article.
There seem to be three main viewpoints:
De-growth: We need to radically shift our economy and our way of life away from endless economic growth in order to live more sustainably.
Green growth: Some economic growth is still necessary for achieving environmental goals.
- Kate Raworth – Doughnut Economics: Seven Ways to Think Like a 21-Century Economist
- Alex Bowen and Cameron Hepburn – Green Growth: An Assessment
Slow growth: Slow economic growth is a normal and even desirable state for advanced economies, especially if the benefits are distributed more equitably, quite irrespective of environmental goals.
- Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo – Good Economics for Hard Times
- Dietrich Vollrath – Fully Grown: Why a Stagnant Economy Is a Sign of Success
Cassidy also highlights some of the challenges that any shift to a low-growth or no-growth economy will bring:
- How do we address the inevitable distributional conflicts that will arise when there is no “rising tide” to lift all boats?
- How do we help the roughly 800 million people still living on less than $1.90 a day, which is the World Bank’s definition of extreme poverty?
These questions echo themes I’ve highlighted in some of my own recent posts.
Definitely worth reading.