Long-run Growth, Social Institutions and Living Standards

Long-run Growth, Social Institutions and Living Standards

Edited by Neri Salvadori and Arrigo Opocher

This engaging book contains a set of original contributions to the much-debated issues of long-run economic growth in relation to institutional and social progress.

Chapter 1: Does Economic Growth Ultimately Lead to a ‘Noble Life’? A Comparative Analysis of the Predictions of Mill, Marshall and

Arrigo Opocher

Subjects: economics and finance, radical and feminist economics, social policy and sociology, economics of social policy

Extract

Keynes Arrigo Opocher But in contemplating any progressive movement, not in its nature unlimited, the mind is not satisfied with merely tracing the laws of the movement; it cannot but ask the further question, to what goal? Towards what ultimate point is society tending by its industrial progress? (J.S. Mill, Principles of Political Economy). Wealth is evidently not the good we are seeking; for it is merely useful and for the sake of something else (Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics). 1.1. INTRODUCTION In recent literature there has been renewed interest in economic growth, not as a goal in itself, but as a means of fulfilling goals of a higher order. The socalled ‘paradox of happiness’ in advanced countries, and the related literature (for example Bruni and Porta, 2005 and references contained therein), are a notable example, like the notion of ‘human development’1 in less developed countries. Also the exponential growth in the studies on human capital, the economics of education and health care can be ascribed to rising interest in living conditions in relation to growth. This point of view is certainly not new. Public happiness was, of course, a major concern of social philosophy in the Age of Enlightenment. Thereafter, the Classical economists quite naturally considered the change in standards of life, especially for the working classes, as the most important property of economic growth. In this respect, A. Smith and D. Ricardo were second to none. It was J.S. Mill, however, who first perceived the possibility that industrial growth could...

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