The Sufficiency Economy: Envisioning a Prosperous Way Down

32 Pages Posted: 2 Feb 2013

See all articles by Samuel Alexander

Samuel Alexander

University of Melbourne - Office for Environmental Programs; Simplicity Institute

Date Written: November 13, 2012

Abstract

After briefly summarising the critique of growth, this essay describes in some detail an alternative economic system, which I will call ‘the sufficiency economy.’ This term is typically applied to so-called ‘developing economies,’ which either have not yet industrialised or are still in the early phases of industrialisation. These economies are sometimes called sufficiency economies because they do not or cannot produce material abundance, or do not seek material abundance. Instead, sufficiency economies are focused on meeting mostly local needs with mostly local resources, without the society being relentlessly driven to expand by the growth-focused ethics of profit-maximisation. My point of differentiation in this essay will be to consider the notion of a sufficiency economy within the context of the most highly developed regions of the world – where an economics of sufficiency is most desperately needed – and to explore what such an economy would look like, how it might function, and how the transition to such an economy might transpire.

Rather than progress being seen as a movement toward ever-increasing material affluence, the sufficiency economy aims for a world in which everyone’s basic needs are modestly but sufficiently met, in an ecologically sustainable, highly localised, and socially equitable manner. When material sufficiency is achieved in these ways, further growth would not continue to be a priority. Instead, human beings would realise that they were free from the demands of continuous economic activity and could therefore dedicate more of their energies to non-materialistic pursuits, such as enjoying social relationships, connecting with nature, exploring the mysteries of the universe, or engaging in peaceful, creative activity of various sorts.

Keywords: sufficiency, sufficiency economy, degrowth, voluntary simplicity, the simpler way, sustainable consumption, energy descent

Suggested Citation

Alexander, Samuel, The Sufficiency Economy: Envisioning a Prosperous Way Down (November 13, 2012). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2210170 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2210170

Samuel Alexander (Contact Author)

University of Melbourne - Office for Environmental Programs ( email )

185 Pelham Street
Carlton, Victoria 3053
Australia

Simplicity Institute

Australia

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Downloads
185
Abstract Views
909
rank
190,318
PlumX Metrics