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Few ideas in the past century have had wider financial, political, and governmental impact than that of economic growth. The common belief that endless economic growth, as measured by Gross Domestic Product, is not only possible but actually essential for the flourishing of civilization remains a powerful policy goal and aspiration for many. In The Mismeasure of Progress, Few ideas in the past century have had wider financial, political, and governmental impact than that of economic growth. The common belief that endless economic growth, as measured by Gross Domestic Product, is not only possible but actually essential for the flourishing of civilization remains a powerful policy goal and aspiration for many. In The Mismeasure of Progress, Stephen J. Macekura exposes a historical road not taken, illuminating the stories of the activists, intellectuals, and other leaders who long argued that GDP growth was not all it was cracked up to be. Beginning with the rise of the growth paradigm in the 1940s and 1950s and continuing through the present day, The Mismeasure of Progress is the first book on the myriad thinkers who argued against growth and the conventional way progress had been measured and defined. For growth critics, questioning the meaning and measurement of growth was a necessary first step to creating a more just, equal, and sustainable world. These critics argued that focusing on growth alone would not resolve social, political, and environmental problems, and they put forth alternate methods for defining and measuring human progress. ​In today’s global political scene—marked by vast inequalities of power and wealth and made even more fraught by a global climate emergency—the ideas presented by these earlier critics of growth resonate more loudly than ever. Economic growth appealed to many political leaders because it allowed them to avoid addressing political trade-offs and class conflict. It sustained the fiction that humans are somehow separate from nonhuman “nature,” ignoring the intimate and dense connections between the two. In order to create a truly just and equitable society, Macekura argues, we need a clear understanding of our collective needs beyond growth and more holistic definitions of progress that transcend economic metrics like GDP.


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Few ideas in the past century have had wider financial, political, and governmental impact than that of economic growth. The common belief that endless economic growth, as measured by Gross Domestic Product, is not only possible but actually essential for the flourishing of civilization remains a powerful policy goal and aspiration for many. In The Mismeasure of Progress, Few ideas in the past century have had wider financial, political, and governmental impact than that of economic growth. The common belief that endless economic growth, as measured by Gross Domestic Product, is not only possible but actually essential for the flourishing of civilization remains a powerful policy goal and aspiration for many. In The Mismeasure of Progress, Stephen J. Macekura exposes a historical road not taken, illuminating the stories of the activists, intellectuals, and other leaders who long argued that GDP growth was not all it was cracked up to be. Beginning with the rise of the growth paradigm in the 1940s and 1950s and continuing through the present day, The Mismeasure of Progress is the first book on the myriad thinkers who argued against growth and the conventional way progress had been measured and defined. For growth critics, questioning the meaning and measurement of growth was a necessary first step to creating a more just, equal, and sustainable world. These critics argued that focusing on growth alone would not resolve social, political, and environmental problems, and they put forth alternate methods for defining and measuring human progress. ​In today’s global political scene—marked by vast inequalities of power and wealth and made even more fraught by a global climate emergency—the ideas presented by these earlier critics of growth resonate more loudly than ever. Economic growth appealed to many political leaders because it allowed them to avoid addressing political trade-offs and class conflict. It sustained the fiction that humans are somehow separate from nonhuman “nature,” ignoring the intimate and dense connections between the two. In order to create a truly just and equitable society, Macekura argues, we need a clear understanding of our collective needs beyond growth and more holistic definitions of progress that transcend economic metrics like GDP.

36 review for The Mismeasure of Progress: Economic Growth and Its Critics

  1. 5 out of 5

    Tomas Daubner

    I read this book because it was recommended by "The Enlightened Economist" blog. I was disappointed. "The Power of a Single Number: A Political History of GDP" is a better read, but slightly different. The author is a historian, not an economist. The book is very well-sourced and it is good at giving an overview of the history of the left-wing criticism of GDP metric, which does not provide any valid usable alternative to GDP, the author is not genuinely interested in what are the counterargument I read this book because it was recommended by "The Enlightened Economist" blog. I was disappointed. "The Power of a Single Number: A Political History of GDP" is a better read, but slightly different. The author is a historian, not an economist. The book is very well-sourced and it is good at giving an overview of the history of the left-wing criticism of GDP metric, which does not provide any valid usable alternative to GDP, the author is not genuinely interested in what are the counterarguments for his claims, this is not how scholars should work. I am not a fan of the eternal 3% economic growth and I think that the recent slow down to 1-2% is a feature (Growth: From Microorganisms to Megacities) of the system in contrast to bug proponents like Summers-secular stagnation and Gordon-innovation slow down. By definition the degrowth proponents cant be in agreement with people like old-fashioned Keynesian - Larry Summers who wants to spend more and make aggregate demand great again. They are neither in agreement with the Green new deal proponents, they call them too right-wing and too pro-capitalism. If you want to stay open-minded and hear arguments from both sides I would recommend to read these 2 books: Apocalypse Never: Why Environmental Alarmism Hurts Us All More from Less: The Surprising Story of How We Learned to Prosper Using Fewer Resources—and What Happens Next

  2. 4 out of 5

    Daniel Folk

    An interesting academic book.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Scott

  4. 5 out of 5

    Gary Reger

  5. 5 out of 5

    Mauricio Santoro

  6. 5 out of 5

    Morten

  7. 4 out of 5

    Julia Duo

  8. 4 out of 5

    John

  9. 4 out of 5

    Sophie Hoffman

  10. 5 out of 5

    Alex Tippett

  11. 5 out of 5

    Elena

  12. 5 out of 5

    X Li

  13. 4 out of 5

    Manray9

  14. 4 out of 5

    N. D. Arseno

  15. 5 out of 5

    Kyle

  16. 4 out of 5

    Alex Senger

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jan

  18. 4 out of 5

    Sian Jaimi

  19. 5 out of 5

    Lucas Bafume

  20. 4 out of 5

    Pavol Hardos

  21. 5 out of 5

    Kyle

  22. 4 out of 5

    Drew

  23. 5 out of 5

    Victor Hernandez

  24. 5 out of 5

    Willem Morris

  25. 5 out of 5

    Andrew

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jesser Sanchez

  27. 4 out of 5

    Aymeric Miorcec De Kerdanet

  28. 4 out of 5

    Emily

  29. 5 out of 5

    Juan

  30. 5 out of 5

    Argon

  31. 4 out of 5

    Andrew

  32. 4 out of 5

    Michael Mcmillin

  33. 5 out of 5

    Malek Atia

  34. 4 out of 5

    Atul

  35. 5 out of 5

    JJ Balisanyuka-Smith

  36. 4 out of 5

    Malinga

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