The two rival interpretations of ‘de-growth’

We have a problem. There are currently two fundamentally different understandings of the word “degrowth”.

Jason Hickel’s view is that “Degrowth is a planned reduction of energy and resource use designed to bring the economy back into balance with the living world in a way that reduces inequality and improves human well-being.” A planned reduction of energy and resource use which assumes that, otherwise, there will continue to be growth.

Tim Morgan’s view is that: “People have been getting poorer in most Western advanced economies since the early 2000s. With the same fate now starting to overtake emerging market countries too, global prosperity has turned down. One way of describing this process is ‘de-growth‘.”

His view is that a reduction in energy use is already occurring.

Now that it is becoming obvious that the world economy is indeed shrinking, I believe this must be the way to think of degrowth.

Degrowth is the opposite of growth.  It is happening now – albeit hidden by government borrowing which creates an impression of growth.

It is no longer necessary to plan a reduction in energy use.  It is already happening. More or less out of sight, the restructuring of our economy and society is already happening.

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Radix is the radical centre think tank. We welcome all contributions which promote system change, challenge established notions and re-imagine our societies. The views expressed here are those of the individual contributor and not necessarily shared by Radix.


  1. [email protected] says

    The flaw in this story is the measurement of GDP. What sort of growth are we talking about.
    The definition of growth which I like most came from South Africa: “For me, growth is where I see a cabbage growing where there was no cabbage before”
    This is worth reflecting on.

  2. hlgower2003 says

    Another way of looking at this issue from Tim Jackson is that as a society we need to escape our dependency on economic growth. Can we thrive as a society without economic growth, which has so many downsides? Can we wean ourselves off this damaging addiction? Apart from anything getting hold of it is becoming more and more difficult.

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