History of the Future of Economic Growth: Historical Roots of Current Debates on Sustainable Degrowth

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Iris Borowy, Matthias Schmelzer
Taylor & Francis, Feb 24, 2017 - Business & Economics - 214 pages
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The future of economic growth is one of the decisive questions of the twenty-first century. Alarmed by declining growth rates in industrialized countries, climate change, and rising socio-economic inequalities, among other challenges, more and more people demand to look for alternatives beyond growth. However, so far these current debates about sustainability, post-growth or degrowth lack a thorough historical perspective.

This edited volume brings together original contributions on different aspects of the history of economic growth as a central and near-ubiquitous tenet of developmental strategies. The book addresses the origins and evolution of the growth paradigm from the seventeenth century up to the present day and also looks at sustainable development, sustainable growth, and degrowth as examples of alternative developmental models. By focusing on the mixed legacy of growth, both as a major source of expanded life expectancies and increased comfort, and as a destructive force harming personal livelihoods and threatening entire societies in the future, the editors seek to provide historical depth to the ongoing discussion on suitable principles of present and future global development.

History of the Future of Economic Growth is aimed at students and academics in environmental, social, economic and international history, political science, environmental studies, and economics, as well as those interested in ongoing discussions about growth, sustainable development, degrowth, and, more generally, the future.


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the end of economic growth in longterm perspective
1 Seventeenthcentury origins of the growth paradigm
the idea of infinite growth from fossil capitalism to green capitalism
3 The end of gold? Monetary metals studied at the planetary and human scale during the classical gold standard era
how the politics of GDP shaped society and the world
an intellectual history
evidence uncertainties and connections over time and place
a critical history of economic growth and sustainable development
historical roots of the search for alternatives to growth in three regions

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About the author (2017)

Iris Borowy is Distinguished Professor at Shanghai University, China.

Matthias Schmelzer works at the Konzeptwerk Neue Íkonomie in Leipzig and is a Permanent Fellow at the Research Group on Post-Growth Societies at the University of Jena, Germany.

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