Essay On Degrowth

1362 Words 6 Pages
Growing concern for the future environmental and social climate has brought many to argue for a fundamental overhaul of the modern economic axioms. Indeed, the notion that a finite biophysical system is incapable of sustaining infinite economic growth is responsible for the increasing popularity of the degrowth movement. What follows is a critical assessment of the desirability and feasibility of a degrowth economy. More specifically, Sen’s capabilities approach is used to assess whether or not degrowth can occur without hindering development. Then, the conditions for such a system to thrive are postulated using North’s approach to institutional analysis.
Because the concept of degrowth is used in various fields, sometimes with different interpretations, let us disambiguate its signification here. Degrowth is a movement with its roots in ecological economics, anti-capitalism and anti- consumerism. It promotes the maximization of wellbeing
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North proposes that “consensual political order requires that, in equilibrium, all members of society have an incentive to obey and enforce the rules and that a sufficient number are motivated to punish potential deviants” (North, Year, Chapter 8, Section 1, para. 4). In the current capitalist system, individuals aim to maximize their wealth. Consequently, they will punish any deviant who attempts to infringe on their property rights. Since people’s incentive to maximize their wealth and punish deviants is aligned with the macro-economic goal of GDP growth, provides an incentive structure that is self-reinforcing. While some argue for a fundamental re- conception of our way of life, I contend that the simplest avenue to achieve degrowth is through the redefinition of wealth from within the capitalist system. Indeed, wealth maximization could lend itself to economic degrowth if wealth was assessed in terms of people’s capabilities, as suggested by

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