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Better is better than more: investigations into qualitative growth

Michael Oden and Michael Benedikt

International Journal of Sustainable Development, 2016, vol. 19, issue 2, 162-184

Abstract: This paper attempts to offer new insights into the concept of qualitative growth in an economic regime made sustainable, in part, by restrictions on industrial resource consumption as proposed by Herman Daly and other ecological economists. We argue that product, service, and experience quality is more than an outlying variable in the formula for sustainable growth, and we question whether 'quality' is adequately addressed by studies in product differentiation, consumer preference, and technological innovation in mainstream neoclassical economics. Our core hypothesis is that a general increase in the quality of goods produced by a country can be more sustainable than, and can in large measure substitute for, a general increase in the quantity of goods produced. We propose alternative ways to promote an economy-wide shift from quantitative to qualitative growth, but also to limn what 'quality' consists of at a usefully abstract level. We suggest, finally, a strategy that looks to modest regulatory interventions together with early education in quality discrimination, improved information about quality in the marketplace, and more effective persuasion as to the economic benefits of qualitative growth.

Keywords: sustainable development; qualitative growth strategies; qualitative measures; goods; services; qualitative growth; sustainability; ecological economics; resource consumption; product quality; service quality; quality discrimination. (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2016
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Handle: RePEc:ids:ijsusd:v:19:y:2016:i:2:p:162-184