Planned Economic Contraction: The Emerging Case for Degrowth

24 Pages Posted: 9 Oct 2011

See all articles by Samuel Alexander

Samuel Alexander

University of Melbourne - Office for Environmental Programs; Simplicity Institute

Date Written: August 3, 2011


This article outlines the sociological, ecological, and economic foundations of a macroeconomics ‘beyond growth,’ focusing on the idea of degrowth. Degrowth opposes conventional growth economics on the grounds that growth in the highly developed nations has become socially counter-productive, ecologically unsustainable, and uneconomic. Stagnating energy supplies also suggest an imminent ‘end of growth’ (Heinberg, 2011). In response to growth economics, degrowth scholars call for a politico-economic policy of planned economic contraction, an approach which has been broadly defined as ‘an equitable downscaling of production and consumption that increases human well-being and enhances ecological conditions’ (Schneider et al, 2010, p. 512). After defining growth economics and outlining the emerging case for degrowth, this article considers the feasibility of a macroeconomics beyond growth and sketches an outline of what such a macroeconomics might look like as a politico-economic program.

Keywords: degrowth, voluntary simplicity, economic growth, GDP, GPI, post-growth, peak oil, threshold hypothesis

Suggested Citation

Alexander, Samuel, Planned Economic Contraction: The Emerging Case for Degrowth (August 3, 2011). Available at SSRN: or

Samuel Alexander (Contact Author)

University of Melbourne - Office for Environmental Programs ( email )

185 Pelham Street
Carlton, Victoria 3053

Simplicity Institute


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