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The contested concept of growth imperatives: Technology and the fear of stagnation

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  • Oliver Richters

    (University of Oldenburg, Department of Economics)

  • Andreas Siemoneit

    (ZOE Institute for future-fit economiex,Bonn, Germany)

Abstract

Economic growth has become a prominent political goal worldwide, despite its severe conflicts with ecological sustainability. Are ‘growth policies’ only a question of political or individual will, or do ‘growth imperatives’ exist that make them ‘inescapable’? We structure the debate along two dimensions: (a) degree of coerciveness between free will and coercion, and (b) types of agents aected. Carefully derived micro level definitions of ‘social coercion’ and ‘growth imperative’ are used to discuss several mechanisms which are suspected to make economic growth necessary for firms, households, and nation states. We identify technological innovations as a systematic necessity to net invest, trapping firms and households in a positive feedback loop to increase eciency. Due to its resource consumption, the competitive advantage of a novel technology is often based on a violation of the meritocratic principle. The resulting dilemma between ‘technological unemployment’ and the social necessity of high employment can explain why states ‘must’ foster economic growth. Politically, we suggest market compliant institutions to limit resource consumption and redistribute economic rents.

Suggested Citation

  • Oliver Richters & Andreas Siemoneit, 2018. "The contested concept of growth imperatives: Technology and the fear of stagnation," Working Papers V-414-18, University of Oldenburg, Department of Economics, revised Nov 2018.
  • Handle: RePEc:old:dpaper:414
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    2. Salvador Pueyo, 2019. "Limits to green growth and the dynamics of innovation," Papers 1904.09586, arXiv.org, revised May 2019.
    3. Richters, Oliver & Siemoneit, Andreas, 2019. "Marktwirtschaft reparieren: Entwurf einer freiheitlichen, gerechten und nachhaltigen Utopie," EconStor Books, ZBW - Leibniz Information Centre for Economics, number 213814.

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    Keywords

    economic growth; social coercion; growth imperative; technology; resource consumption; unemployment;
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