Timothée Parrique

Fri 7 January 2022
12:00 CET (Brussels time)

Is Prosperous Degrowth Feasible?

Is degrowth bad economics? To properly answer this question, it is essential that we first grasp what economic growth really is. Often, the term ‘growth’ is conflated with an increase in wealth in the broadest sense of the term. But according to the degrowth-movement, economic growth is a narrower concept only describing an increase in Gross Domestic Product (GDP). To them, GDP is not a measure of wealth in general but a very specific statistical indicator that estimates the aggregated value of commodity production. Thus, growth policies and growth targets are about increasing GDP, which is only indirectly related to need satisfaction. Whereas an economy which is people-centred, focused on societal equity and environmental protection, and strives for long-term regeneration would be a true asset for the societal wellbeing. Building a Wellbeing Economy requires redesigning frameworks (institutions, infrastructure, laws, ….) to promote a boost in behaviour and activities that support the long-term prospects of people and planet, and demote those that undermine them.

Since the onset of the pandemic, the concept of degrowth has experienced a steady rise in popularity. But this idea is not new and has existed at least since the beginning of the 2000s. So, what has made it resurface today? And, most importantly: what does it mean? This talk will present the concept of degrowth and its implications in terms of economic organisation.

Degrowth is the planned and democratic reduction of production and consumption in rich countries to reduce environmental pressures and inequalities while improving wellbeing. Based on his dissertation ‘The Political Economy of Degrowth’ (2019), Timothée Parrique will retrace the history of this controversial idea and discuss where it fits in today’s ideological landscape.

The talk will clarify common misunderstandings around the term, often associated with recession, austerity, asceticism, and authoritarianism. It will also ponder on important questions concerning the economics of degrowth: Is degrowth compatible with capitalism? Does degrowth mean the end of innovation? Can we eradicate poverty, reduce inequality, and create jobs without growth? Is economic growth necessary to maintain or improve wellbeing?

The talk will also discuss the question of how, detailing a few policy proposals that are currently being discussed in degrowth literature. From job guarantees to wealth taxes, and resource use quotas to free public transport, Timothée Parrique will make the case that degrowth is not only necessary but feasible.
Timothée Parrique is a French social scientist. He holds a PhD in economics from the Centre d’Études et de Recherches sur le Développement (University of Clermont Auvergne, France) and the Stockholm Resilience Centre (Stockholm University, Sweden). Titled “The political economy of degrowth” (2019), his dissertation explores the economic implications of the ideas of degrowth. Tim is also the lead author of “Decoupling debunked – Evidence and arguments against green growth” (2019), a report published by the European Environmental Bureau (EEB). He frequently writes about green growth and decoupling. Besides being passionate about heterodox economics, he adulates philosophy of science and academic writing. When not ranting about economics, Tim likes to surf, climb, and do backflips on his mountain bike – yes, it’s possible.