Envisioning the Good Life

The Good Life in a Steady State Economy

Value through less consumptive activities. Image credit: Frerieke

The evidence is all around us — the global human economy has grown too large.  Continued economic growth (especially in high-consuming nations) is at best irresponsible, and at worst risks ecological collapse and resource deprivation for future generations. The logical way forward for nations of the world is to take a different path to achieve sustainable, healthy, and equitable lifestyles for citizens. The alternative to continued economic growth is a non-growing or steady state economy. Modern societies have not undertaken efforts to establish steady state economies – the goal has consistently been growth, especially since the dawn of the industrial revolution.

Fear and doubt often swirl around the concept of a steady state economy. Mere mention of an end to growth prompts anxious discussions about unemployment, stagnation, and lack of progress. These are not features of a functional and dynamic steady state economy, but most citizens do not have a sense of what life would be like in an intentionally non-growing economy. One way to envision this life more clearly is to examine various activities and institutions as they would exist in a steady state economy and compare them to how they exist in an economy that pursues continuous growth. Click on the following items to see how they behave in a steady state economy versus an economy aiming for evermore growth.