Managing Without Growth
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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.
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Chapter 2: Why Manage Without Growth?

Peter A. Victor

Extract

2. Why manage without growth? Providing for the well being of a still growing world population within the limits of a finite planet is the key challenge for our future. (Eleven National Organizations 2006, Consensus Statement 2006) Most people understand the need to manage growth. Cities become unpleasant when they get too big. Urban sprawl, gridlock and road rage are well known to many of us and continue to challenge the best minds among planners and politicians. Green belts, car free zones, intensification, transit – these are just some of the solutions that help but are not up to the job of containing urbanization as it spreads across the landscape. Still, we keep trying. Growth of entire economies also requires management. This is the job of departments of finance and central bankers who strive for but seldom achieve a steady year over year increase in economic output with high employment and stable prices, with additional objectives for government finances, savings rates, trade balances, capital flows, exchange rates and the like. Economic growth also brings related problems that must be managed. High on this list is what is commonly termed the environment, a catchall for a whole host of air, water, land and resource issues and concern for other species. That is why we have government departments and agencies charged with safeguarding the environment, protecting wildlife, and conserving natural resources. In most countries, their record in doing all this is mixed at best. But this book is not about managing growth....

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