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Managing without Growth, Second Edition

Slower by Design, not Disaster

Peter A. Victor

Ten years after the publication of the first edition of this influential book, the evidence is even stronger that human economies are overwhelming the regenerative capacity of the planet. This book explains why long-term economic growth is infeasible, and why, especially in advanced economies, it is also undesirable. Simulations based on real data show that managing without growth is a better alternative
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Chapter 9: Economic growth and happiness

Peter A. Victor


There is an extensive body of literature showing the weak relationship between people’s incomes and their self-reported happiness or well-being, especially at higher levels of income. A person’s income relative to others seems to be more important to them than their absolute income level. The lack of correlation between average incomes in the USA and the proportion of Americans who describe themselves as ‘very happy’ is similar to the pattern that comes from a comparison of incomes and the Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI). The GPI was designed to adjust GDP to make it a more valid measure of well-being. HappyGrow, a theoretical simulation model in which goods provide different combinations of status and use, is described. When status is zero sum, economic growth, which brings increasing consumption of status goods, adds little or nothing to overall well-being.

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