A No-Growth, Steady-State Economy Must Be Our Goal (An NPG Position Paper)

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We originally published this NPG Position Paper in 2002. We have published it again because we believe that the problems it addresses are still very much with us, and that our recommended solutions are as pertinent now as they were then.

Executive Summary

  1. Economic growth in a finite world, which is the only world we have, is not sustainable. Sustainable economic growth is an oxymoron, a contradiction in terms.
  2. In order to create a sustainable economy we must first discard the goal of macro economic growth and replace it with the goal of a no-growth, steady-state economy.
  3. Even a steady-state economy, however, would need to be of a size relative to our ecosystem that would allow it to be in balance with our resources and environment, and thus be sustainable indefinitely.
  4. Even if growth were halted now, the size of our present economy is too large to be sustainable. The scale of our economy needs first, therefore, to be reduced to a sustainable size and then maintained at that level.
  5. The only way to reduce the size of our macro (aggregate, overall) economy while maintaining or even increasing per capita income is by a reduction in our numbers to an optimum, sustainable level. An optimum population size might be defined as that level which would permit the creation of a sustainable steady-state economy with an adequate standard of living for all.
  6. Macro economic growth requires a growing labor force so that GNP can increase constantly. A growing labor force is only possible if population grows, and population growth in the U.S. depends largely on massive immigration. It is highly unlikely, therefore, that we will ever reduce immigration drastically (which we urgently need to do in order to achieve a smaller population) until we renounce the goal of economic growth and replace it with the goal of a steady-state economy.

Read the entire paper here

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