7. Be Agnostic about Growth

Summary of Way

To the alarm of governments and financiers, forecasts for GDP growth in many high-income countries are flat-lining, opening up a crisis in growth-based economics.

Mainstream economics views endless GDP growth as a must, but nothing in nature grows forever, and the economic attempt to buck that trend is raising tough questions in high-income but low-growth countries. That’s because today we have economies that need to grow, whether or not they make us thrive.

What we need are economies that make us thrive, whether or not they grow. That radical flip in perspective invites us to become agnostic about growth and to explore how our economies—which are currently financially, politically and socially addicted to growth—could learn to live with or without it.

Introductory video

Relevance to digital tech

The classic Doughnut recognises that growth in some contexts can be useful, for example in lifting some groups out of poverty. But growth cannot be the only – or indeed main – goal for activity in the Doughnut model. We used this category for 10 comments specifically focused on business growth.

Comments included:

  • “The websites we build encourage ever-increasing consumption”
  • “Reduction and degrowth instead of compensation and mitigation”
  • “Slower tech – faster is not always better”