Economic growth is supposed to deliver prosperity. Higher incomes should mean better choices, richer lives, an improved quality of life for us all. That at least is the conventional wisdom. But things haven’t always turned out that way.
An even stronger finding is that the requirements of prosperity go way beyond material sustenance. Prosperity has vital social and psychological dimensions. To do well is in part about the ability to give and receive love, to enjoy the respect of your peers, to contribute useful work, and to have a sense of belonging and trust in the community. In short, an important component of prosperity is the ability to participate meaningfully in the life
This view of prosperity has much in common with Amartya Sen’s vision of development as ‘capabilities for flourishing’.
The ‘iron cage of consumerism’ is a system in which no one is free.
It’s an anxious, and ultimately a pathological system. But at one level it works. The system remains economically viable as long as liquidity is preserved and consumption rises. It collapses when either of these stalls.
Prosperity without growth?
The transition to a sustainable economy
Professor Tim Jackson
Sustainable Development Commission
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