Building an Economy That Works

Our MAPSS themes are drawn together through a number of cross-cutting projects and thematic engagements with policy, business and civil society on issues related to sustainable prosperity. One of these cross-cutting projects is Building an Economy That Works.

At the heart of Prosperity without Growth is the call for a new understanding of the dynamics of the modern economy that can also incorporate the reality of ecological and resource constraints. A critical challenge for this new approach is the need to ensure economic and social stability even as relentless growth in consumer demand is attenuated. We are addressing the ‘post-growth challenge‘ throughout our work programme. Our conceptual basis is informed in particular by our system dynamics work. We are engaging with a variety of stakeholders in business and parliament, to help developing strategies for an economy that works for everyone. In affiliation with the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Limits to Growth, and chaired by Caroline Lucas MP, we are developing a series of Private Breakfast Briefings in Parliament to address the demands facing the UK economy at a pivotal time in our history and to provide a forum for discussion on the challenge of building an economy that works — for everyone.

Research Updates

Policy Briefings

Ten years after the financial crisis, sluggish growth, faltering labour productivity and persistent inequalities are creating huge uncertainties for the future of advanced economies such as the UK. Under these conditions, it is challenging to meet the investment needs associated with improving people’s health and wellbeing or to honour our obligations under the Paris Agreement on climate change. The implications for social and political instability are profound. Is a return to high levels of GDP growth the only way to meet these combined challenges? Is such a return even possible? A series of briefing papers from the All-Party Parliamentary Group on the Limits to Growth aims to explore these questions and to create the space for a vital conversation aimed at building An Economy That Works – for everyone.

Beyond Redistribution—Confronting inequality in an era of low growth | An Economy That Works, Briefing Paper No 2

The second in our series of briefing papers on building An Economy That Works explores inequality in the UK. It examines the evidence for rising inequality over the last fifty years, estimates the economic welfare lost to society from an unequal distribution of incomes and addresses the critical question of managing inequality in the context of declining growth rates.

Understanding the ‘New Normal’—The Challenge of Secular Stagnation | An Economy That Works, Briefing Paper No 1

This first in our series of briefing papers on building An Economy That Works explores the underlying phenomenon of ‘secular stagnation’ – a long-term decline in the rate of growth of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The paper examines the evidence, explores the causes and discusses the implications of what some now call the ‘new normal’.

A Roundtable for Businesses

Business will not be successful in an economy that doesn’t work. Low productivity undermines competitiveness now, carbon intensity may undermine it in the future, and inequality and associated social tensions create instability, making Britain a potentially unattractive, risky place to do business. Collaborating with an alliance of businesses and civil society organisations, CUSP is hosting Business Roundtables, working to promoting long term, structural changes needed to achieve a sustainable economy. A list of recent roundtables—and subsequent reports—can be accessed below.

Further Reading

January 22, 2019

Revised second edition of Peter Victor’s influential book. Human economies are overwhelming the regenerative capacity of the planet, this book explains why long-term economic growth is infeasible, and why, especially in advanced economies, it is also undesirable. Simulations developed with Tim Jackson, show that managing without growth is a better alternative.

The post-growth challenge

May 13, 2018

Sluggish recovery in the wake of the financial crisis has revived discussion of a ‘secular stagnation’. These conditions have been blamed for rising inequality and political instability. Tim Jackson contests this view, pointing instead to a steadfast refusal to address the ‘post-growth challenge’.

Policy Challenges around Sustainable Lifestyles

April 27, 2018

Tim Jackson’s chapter in The Cambridge Handbook of Psychology and Economic Behaviour has been updated for the second edition of the international, multi-disciplinary and partly new collection, edited by Alan Lewis. It summarises the challenge inherent in recent policy debates about sustainable consumption, focusing in particular on what might be involved in negotiating the kinds of lifestyle changes that are implied by the radical reductions in carbon emissions that are required to mitigate climate change.

Confronting inequality in a post-growth world – basic income, factor substitution and the future of work

April 17, 2018

Piketty argued that slow growth rates inevitably lead to rising inequality. If true, this hypothesis would pose serious challenges for a ‘post-growth’ society. Fiscal responses to this dilemma include Piketty’s own suggestion to tax capital assets and more recent suggestions to provide a universal basic income that would allow even the poorest in society to meet basic needs.

Prosperity Without Growth — Foundations for the Economy of Tomorrow (Book Cover, 2017)

April 27, 2017

The publication of Prosperity without Growth was a landmark in the sustainability debate. This substantially revised and re-written edition updates its arguments and considerably expands upon them. Tim Jackson demonstrates that building a ‘post-growth’ economy is not Utopia – it’s a precise, definable and meaningful task. It’s about taking simple steps towards an economics fit for purpose.

October 9, 2016

This paper explores the ramifications of the combined crises now faced by the prevailing growth-based model of economics. In paying a particular attention to the nature of enterprise, the quality of work, the structure of investment and the role of money, the paper develops the conceptual basis for social innovation in each of these areas, and provides empirical examples of such innovations.

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