Economic de-growth vs. steady-state economy

Christian Kerschner

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    161 Citations (Scopus)


    In recent years the concept of economic de-growth (decroissance) based on the literature of Nicolas Georgescu-Roegen e.g. [1-3] has found a revival in France, Italy, Spain and other countries, in the popular as well as in the academic literature. Therein authors took on board Georgescu-Roegens' categorical rejection of a steady-state economy (SSE), as proposed by Herman Daly [4]. They argue that economic de-growth is the only viable alternative goal to the growing economy. This position is challenged in this article and it is concluded that the two concepts are in fact complements. Economic de-growth is not a goal in itself, but the rich North's path towards a globally equitable SSE. Moreover the de-growth literature can benefit from the strong economic historic roots of the SSE and from Daly's macroeconomic concepts, while in return being able to give lessons about bottom-up approaches. This would be particularly important for the population issue, where Daly proposes limited birth licences. Unfortunately statements on demography are inconsistent and underdeveloped in the de-growth literature. Further it is concluded that most criticisms of the SSE are due to a too narrow and technocratic interpretation of the concept. Instead the SSE should be defined as a quasi steady-state, resting in a dynamic equilibrium and as an "unattainable goal", which can and probably should be approximated. © 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)544-551
    JournalJournal of Cleaner Production
    Issue number6
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2010


    • Economic de-growth
    • Georgescu-Roegen
    • Population
    • Steady-state economy
    • Sustainability
    • Unattainable goals


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