Daniel Susskind, "Growth: A History and a Reckoning" (Harvard UP, 2024)


Daniel Susskind examines the brief and powerful history of economic growth and puts it into perspective with human prosperity in Growth: A History and a Reckoning (Harvard UP, 2024).

Susskind acknowledges the tremendous benefits of economic growth, which he credits with freeing billions of people from poverty and allowing us to live longer and healthier lives. He also recognizes the real and substantial costs of our relentless pursuit of growth at the expense of other considerations and moral challenges. 

Responding to the degrowth movement, Susskind counters the assumption that simply reducing growth will lead to better outcomes.

In particular, Susskind points out that our key measure of growth, GDP, is one imperfect metric that is neither intended nor effective as a proxy for well-being. He recommends a more balanced "dashboard" approach that includes GDP along with other success measures.

Reducing our myopic focus on GDP does not mean less growth. Susskind presents an alternate approach, arguing that we should continue to pursue growth through the creative application of new ideas that allow us to use our finite natural resources more effectively and efficiently. 

Ideas, he points out, are not a scarce asset but an infinite one; by shifting to focus on new ways of thinking and working Susskind shows how we can continue to pursue the benefits of growth while mitigating the high costs.

Book referenced: 

GDP: A Brief but Affectionate History by Diane Coyle

Recommended reading: 

Planting the Oudolf Gardens by Rory Dusoir

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Meghan Cochran

Meghan Cochran studies human systems of belief as a technologist and student of religion, business, and literature.
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