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Growth Is the Problem; Equality Is the Solution

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  • Gregory M. Mikkelson

    () (School of Environment, McGill University, 3534 University Street, Montréal, Québec H3A 2A7, Canada)

Abstract

While the world economy has become more efficient in one sense, i.e. , ecological damage per dollar's worth of economic output, growth in human population size and per-capita production and consumption of goods and services have together far outpaced these gains. Grievous environmental harm has resulted, whether measured in terms of human sustainability through the ecological footprint, or non-human welfare through such indicators as the living planet index and the number of threatened species. Many have therefore called for a reorientation of economic priorities away from growth, and toward equality as a more environmentally-friendly way to enhance human well-being. In this paper, I test the merits of this proposal through analysis of a few key national economic and ecological variables across time and space. The results confirm the hypothesis that equality does far less harm to ecosystems than growth does. In fact, equality seems to benefit one crucial aspect of environmental quality, namely biological diversity.

Suggested Citation

  • Gregory M. Mikkelson, 2013. "Growth Is the Problem; Equality Is the Solution," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 5(2), pages 1-8, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:gam:jsusta:v:5:y:2013:i:2:p:432-439:d:23222
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Frederick Solt, 2009. "Standardizing the World Income Inequality Database," Social Science Quarterly, Southwestern Social Science Association, vol. 90(2), pages 231-242.
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    Cited by:

    1. repec:gam:jsusta:v:8:y:2016:i:2:p:121:d:63084 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Fang Yang & Shiying Pan & Xin Yao, 2016. "Regional Convergence and Sustainable Development in China," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 8(2), pages 1-15, January.
    3. Yaoqing Yuan & Maozhu Jin & Jinfei Ren & Mingming Hu & Peiyu Ren, 2014. "The Dynamic Coordinated Development of a Regional Environment-Tourism-Economy System: A Case Study from Western Hunan Province, China," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 6(8), pages 1-21, August.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    economic growth; economic equality; ecological footprint; biodiversity loss;

    JEL classification:

    • Q - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics
    • Q0 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - General
    • Q2 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation
    • Q3 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Nonrenewable Resources and Conservation
    • Q5 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics
    • Q56 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environment and Development; Environment and Trade; Sustainability; Environmental Accounts and Accounting; Environmental Equity; Population Growth
    • O13 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Agriculture; Natural Resources; Environment; Other Primary Products

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