Degrowth movement challenges traditional views on economic growth

Economic growth, long seen as universally beneficial, is increasingly scrutinized by the rising 'degrowth' movement, which argues for reducing consumption to address inequality and environmental damage.

Jennifer Szalai reports for The New York Times.


In short:

  • Economic growth has primarily benefited the wealthy, prompting questions about its overall desirability.
  • Advocates of degrowth, like Jason Hickel and Kohei Saito, argue that reducing economic activity can improve well-being and environmental health.
  • Critics suggest a more balanced approach, recognizing both the benefits and ecological costs of growth.

Key quote:

“Degrowth is about reducing the material and energy throughput of the economy to bring it back into balance with the living world, while distributing income and resources more fairly.”

— Jason Hickel, anthropologist

Why this matters:

Degrowth proponents challenge the sustainability of continuous economic growth, emphasizing the need for systemic changes to combat climate change and social inequality. Critics of degrowth caution that such a shift could lead to economic instability and job losses, particularly in sectors reliant on high levels of production and consumption. This debate may influence policies on environmental conservation and economic justice.

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