I’ve been curious about the idea of a steady state economy for some time – that is, an economy that doesn’t need to grow every year. Looking at the way our government is currently prepared to take fairly extreme measures to keep growth going, even to the point of selling out the future with massive debts, we need to stop and consider the real value of growth.
I believe it is ecologically, socially, and economically impossible to have continuous growth, and yet this is our stated ambition. As individuals and as a nation, we expect to be richer next year than this one, every single year. We expect to be able to afford more stuff, take more holidays, enjoy more luxuries. We will expect more every year, into the infinite future, regardless of the finite nature of our planet, and our overdrafts.
The way we are going is unsustainable, but what other ways are there to run an economy? What happens if we stop growing every year? Can we still provide for everyone? Will technological progress stop dead? Will wages ever rise? How will we make sure the poor aren’t left behind?
The idea of a post-growth, steady-state economy is compelling, but I don’t know much about it. So, for my own benefit as much as anyone else’s, here’s my attempt to gather together some reading material on the subject.
- SteadyState.org – Centre for the Advancement of the Steady State Economy (CASSE)
- International Society for Ecological Economics
- New Economics Foundation
- Eco-Eco – the International Society for Ecological Economics
- CEECEC – Civil Society Engagement with ECological EConomics
- Tim Jackson – Prosperity Without Growth
- Daly, Townsend et al – Valuing the Earth: Economics, Ecology, Ethics
- Herman Daly – Steady State Economics, and Beyond Growth
- Brian Czech – Shoveling fuel for a runaway train: errant economists, shameful spenders, and a plan to stop them all.
- Clive Hamilton – Growth Fetish
- E F Schmacher – Small is Beautiful
- E J Mishan –The Costs of Economic Growth
- Wolfgang Hoeschele – The Economics of Abundance
Articles, essays and reports:
- Growth isn’t possible, New Economics Foundation
- Eliminating the need for economic growth, from The Foundation for the Economics of Sustainability
- New Scientist special issue – Issue 2678, out 16/10/08 was a special issue on growth.
- John Stuart Mill – Of the Stationary State
- Garrett Hardin – The Tragedy of the Commons
- Peak Oil, Peak Economy, from New Solutions
Lots more links here on the Beyond Growth wiki