What’s the Difference Between Growth and Prosperity?

From the collection Trade

For the most part, economic policy makers continue to make the case that achieving growth should be the over-arching objective of the global economy. In this context, environmentalism often is seen as a cost, a trade-off that inhibits this primary objective. Peter Victor disagrees. An economist who has worked on environmental issues for over 40 years as an academic, consultant and public servant, Victor notes in this interview that such assumptions are increasingly belied by the literature on environmental and resource limits to growth, on the disconnect between higher incomes and happiness, and on the failure of economic growth to meet other key economic, social, and environmental policy objectives.Victor points out that continued economic growth worldwide is unrealistic due to environmental and resource constraints. If rich countries continue to push growth, poorer countries will lag. This is particularly the case given that economic growth has not brought full employment, eliminated poverty, or reduced the burden of the economy on the environment.In this interview, Victor presents these ideas in a way that challenges the very basis of our obsession with economic growth and the implied assertion that rising GDP always equates to rising prosperity and social well being

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