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Growth imperatives: Substantiating a contested concept

Oliver Richters and Andreas Siemoneit

Structural Change and Economic Dynamics, 2019, vol. 51, issue C, 126-137

Abstract: Economic growth remains a prominent political goal, despite its conflicts with ecological sustainability. Are growth policies only a question of political or individual will, or do ‘growth imperatives’ make them inescapable? We structure the debate along two dimensions: (a) degree of coerciveness between free will and coercion, and (b) agents affected. With carefully derived micro level definitions of ‘social coercion’ and ‘growth imperative’, we discuss several mechanisms suspected to make growth necessary for firms, households, and nation states. We identify technological innovations as a systematic necessity to net invest, trapping firms and households in a positive feedback loop to increase efficiency. Resource-intensive technology is economically attractive because of a subtle violation of the meritocratic principle of justice. The resulting dilemma between ‘technological unemployment’ and the social necessity of high employment explains why states ‘must’ foster economic growth. Politically, we suggest to institutionally limit resource consumption and redistribute economic rents.

Keywords: Economic growth; Social coercion; Technology; Resource consumption; Unemployment (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D11 D13 E22 O44 P10 P12 P18 Q01 Z13 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2019
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Persistent link: https://EconPapers.repec.org/RePEc:eee:streco:v:51:y:2019:i:c:p:126-137

DOI: 10.1016/j.strueco.2019.07.012

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Structural Change and Economic Dynamics is currently edited by F. Duchin, H. Hagemann, M. Landesmann, R. Scazzieri, A. Steenge and B. Verspagen

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