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Measuring progress in the degrowth transition to a steady state economy

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  • O'Neill, Daniel W.

Abstract

In order to determine whether degrowth is occurring, or how close national economies are to the concept of a steady state economy, clear indicators are required. Within this paper I analyse four indicator approaches that could be used: (1) Gross Domestic Product, (2) the Index of Sustainable Economic Welfare, (3) biophysical and social indicators, and (4) a composite indicator. I conclude that separate biophysical and social indicators represent the best approach, but a unifying conceptual framework is required to choose appropriate indicators and interpret the relationships between them. I propose a framework based on ends and means, and a set of biophysical and social indicators within this framework. The biophysical indicators are derived from Herman Daly's definition of a steady state economy, and measure the major stocks and flows in the economy–environment system. The social indicators are based on the stated goals of the degrowth movement, and measure the functioning of the socio-economic system, and how effectively it delivers well-being. I discuss some potential applications of the indicators, including a method that allows national economies to be placed into one of five categories: desirable growth, undesirable growth, desirable degrowth, undesirable degrowth, and a steady state economy.

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  • O'Neill, Daniel W., 2012. "Measuring progress in the degrowth transition to a steady state economy," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 84(C), pages 221-231.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecolec:v:84:y:2012:i:c:p:221-231
    DOI: 10.1016/j.ecolecon.2011.05.020
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    14. Krausmann, Fridolin & Erb, Karl-Heinz & Gingrich, Simone & Lauk, Christian & Haberl, Helmut, 2008. "Global patterns of socioeconomic biomass flows in the year 2000: A comprehensive assessment of supply, consumption and constraints," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 65(3), pages 471-487, April.
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    As found on the RePEc Biblio, the curated bibliography for Economics:
    1. > Schools of Economic Thought, Epistemology of Economics > Heterodox Approaches > Ecological Economics > Degrowth

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    3. Rammelt, Crelis F. & Boes, Jan, 2013. "Galtung meets Daly: A framework for addressing inequity in ecological economics," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 93(C), pages 269-277.
    4. Vandeventer, James Scott & Cattaneo, Claudio & Zografos, Christos, 2019. "A Degrowth Transition: Pathways for the Degrowth Niche to Replace the Capitalist-Growth Regime," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 156(C), pages 272-286.
    5. Tokic, Damir, 2012. "The economic and financial dimensions of degrowth," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 84(C), pages 49-56.
    6. Drews, Stefan & Savin, Ivan & van den Bergh, Jeroen C.J.M., 2019. "Opinion Clusters in Academic and Public Debates on Growth-vs-Environment," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 157(C), pages 141-155.
    7. Olivier, Michelle M. & Wilson, Ben P. & Howard, Johnathon L., 2017. "Measuring Localisation Nationally to Form a Global Index," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 137(C), pages 207-219.
    8. Buch-Hansen, Hubert, 2014. "Capitalist diversity and de-growth trajectories to steady-state economies," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 106(C), pages 167-173.
    9. Hardt, Lukas & O'Neill, Daniel W., 2017. "Ecological Macroeconomic Models: Assessing Current Developments," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 134(C), pages 198-211.

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