“Anyone who believes exponential growth can go on forever in a finite world is either a madman or an economist.”

– Kenneth Boulding

Steady-state economy

A steady-state economy is a no-growth economy. It is like a mature forest where there is a constant cycle of birth, growth, death and decay but there is no growth in the overall ecosystem. Whilst a steady-state economy means no growth in the size of the economy there would still be growth in the quality of economy. This would include a much better redistribution of wealth and sustainable, long-term well-being for all.

The idea of a steady-state economy has been promoted by a number of thinkers and was expounded by the nineteenth century philosopher and economist John Stuart Mill who eloquently explained the benefits of such an economy:

“It is scarcely necessary to remark that a stationary condition of capital and population implies no stationary state of human improvement. There would be as much scope as ever for all kinds of mental culture, and moral and social progress; as much room for improving the Art of Living and much more likelihood of its being improved, when minds cease to be engrossed by the art of getting on.”

Mature forest

A steady-state economy is like a mature forest. There are continuous cycles of birth, death and decay but no overall growth.