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Environment versus growth -- A criticism of "degrowth" and a plea for "a-growth"

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  • van den Bergh, Jeroen C.J.M.

Abstract

In recent debates on environmental problems and policies, the strategy of "degrowth" has appeared as an alternative to the paradigm of economic growth. This new notion is critically evaluated by considering five common interpretations of it. One conclusion is that these multiple interpretations make it an ambiguous and rather confusing concept. Another is that degrowth may not be an effective, let alone an efficient strategy to reduce environmental pressure. It is subsequently argued that "a-growth," i.e. being indifferent about growth, is a more logical social aim to substitute for the current goal of economic growth, given that GDP (per capita) is a very imperfect indicator of social welfare. In addition, focusing ex ante on public policy is considered to be a strategy which ultimately is more likely to obtain the necessary democratic-political support than an ex ante, explicit degrowth strategy. In line with this, a policy package is proposed which consists of six elements, some of which relate to concerns raised by degrowth supporters.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Ecological Economics.

Volume (Year): 70 (2011)
Issue (Month): 5 (March)
Pages: 881-890

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Handle: RePEc:eee:ecolec:v:70:y:2011:i:5:p:881-890

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Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/ecolecon

Related research

Keywords: Consumption Environmental policy Equity GDP paradox Grassroots initiatives Political feasibility Reducing work-time Regulating advertisement;

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Cited by:
  1. Anderson, Blake & M'Gonigle, Michael, 2012. "Does ecological economics have a future?," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 84(C), pages 37-48.
  2. Miklós Antal & Jeroen van den Bergh, 2014. "Macroeconomics, Financial Crisis and the Environment: Strategies for a Sustainability Transition," WWWforEurope Policy Paper series 10, WWWforEurope.
  3. Eric Kemp-Benedict, 2011. "Confronting the Kaya Identity with Investment and Capital Stocks," Papers 1112.0758, arXiv.org, revised Jun 2012.
  4. Pernilla Hagbert & Mikael Mangold & Paula Femenías, 2013. "Paradoxes and Possibilities for a ‘Green’ Housing Sector: A Swedish Case," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 5(5), pages 2018-2035, May.
  5. Anna Dimitrova & Katarina Hollan & Daphne Laster & Andreas Reinstaller & Margit Schratzenstaller & Ewald Walterskirchen & Teresa Weiss, 2013. "Literature review on fundamental concepts and definitions, objectives and policy goals as well as instruments relevant for socio-ecological transition," WWWforEurope Working Papers series 40, WWWforEurope.
  6. Balasescu, Florin Razvan, 2012. "Is Environmental Dematerialization An Active Factor Of The Sustainable Development?," Studii Financiare (Financial Studies), Centre of Financial and Monetary Research "Victor Slavescu", vol. 16(3), pages 171-184.
  7. Asici, Ahmet Atil & Bunul, Zeynep, 2012. "Green New Deal: A Green Way out of the Crisis?," MPRA Paper 49553, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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