Managing Without Growth

Managing Without Growth

Slower by Design, Not Disaster

Advances in Ecological Economics series

Peter A. Victor

Peter Victor challenges the priority that rich countries continue to give to economic growth as an over-arching objective of economic policy. The challenge is based on a critical analysis of the literature on environmental and resource limits to growth, on the disconnect between higher incomes and happiness, and on the failure of economic growth to meet other key economic, social and environmental policy objectives. Shortly after World War II, economic growth became the paramount economic policy objective in most countries, a position that it maintains today. This book presents three arguments on why rich countries should turn away from economic growth as the primary policy objective and pursue more specific objectives that enhance wellbeing.

Chapter 10: Managing Without Growth in Canada: Exploring the Possibilities

Peter A. Victor

Subjects: environment, ecological economics, environmental politics and policy, politics and public policy, environmental politics and policy


A slowdown in economic growth which reflects a change in taste is a very different animal to one which reflects a deficiency of purchasing power. If people want to buy less, they should – ultimately and rationally – also want to work less . . . Instead of balancing at a high rate of growth, the economic system would balance at a low rate or zero. (Brittan 2002) About the same time that Western governments adopted full employment and economic growth as primary policy objectives, economists began building econometric models of economies. These models were intended to help them understand the determinants of employment and growth and to test ideas for stimulating employment and growth. Most of the early models were based on the seminal work by John Maynard Keynes into the causes of unemployment and possible solutions (Keynes 1935). Despite the anti-Keynesian sentiment that became popular in the 1980s and 1990s when monetarism took centre stage, Keynes’s influence on how economists think about macroeconomics remains strong. Models in the sense being used here are of two kinds. They may be mathematical representations of relationships among key economic variables such as consumption, investment, savings, employment, government taxation and expenditure, international trade, the money supply, interest rates and prices. Sometimes resources and the environment are also included. Such models can be built and studied based on nothing more than economic theory and mathematics. A second family of models uses data and statistical methods to estimate the theoretically derived relationships of the...

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