Green economy  |  Publications  |  18.11.2013
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A post-growth society for the 21st century

How can economic growth be explained, and what future for growth in Europe? What’s the state of natural resources, limiting our ability to grow? Economic growth is usually considered the default mechanism for ensuring prosperity, but is GDP growth the best indicator for wealth and wellbeing? This study, produced by the research institutes IDDRI (Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations) with the financial support of the Greens/EFA Group in the European Parliament, addresses these questions.

The aim of the current study was to deepen and nuance the reflection around the future of economic growth and the state of natural resources, but also to discuss the conditions required to free socio-economic policy making from GDP growth.


This study shows that very low growth rates in the future do not imply forsaking prosperity as it is conceived in European democracies. The linkages between employment, social protection, equity and wellbeing, on the one hand, and economic growth on the other, are less robust than is commonly thought. 

In terms of employment, some authors maintain that beyond the economic crises, it is not growth that generates jobs, but the opposite. In terms of self-reported wellbeing, or health outcomes, once a certain standard of living has been achieved, equality policies are a powerful force for progress, not growth. However, reducing economic inequalities and financing social protection are made more difficult in a context of low growth, which thus calls for a higher level of deliberation and arbitration. Ensuring prosperity in a post-growth world means more political action the study concludes.

Executive summary "A post growth society for the 21st century"

The Green European Foundation published for the Greens/EFA Group in the European Parliament an executive summary of this study. The executive summary addresses the key questions of the study and sums up its main conclusions. It is available in 4 languages: English, French, German and Spanish. 

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