Wealth in a Low-Growth World

It’s not hard to find an article or argument for moving to a low- or no-growth economy as an ecological imperative.

And, lately, it hasn’t been too hard to find people making the case that aging populations, the goods-to-services shift, or the law of diminishing returns (or something else) is imposing some kind of cap on developed-world growth, especially outside the United States.

What I’m not seeing a lot of, however, is intelligent discussion about wealth creation or transfer in a low- or no-growth world. Millennials and Gen Z might be all about reforming capitalism or reducing/reversing emissions, but it’s a lot easier to walk out of school on Fridays today than to contemplate retirement after the compounded effects of the Great Recession, the demise of the traditional career (and its safety net), and decades of low or no growth.

We’re pretty far outside my zone of competence here, but I think we need to be thinking quite a bit further down the road than we seem to be.

Somehow, we’re going to have to make both life and the planet livable into the next century. And that’s probably going to require much bigger tradeoffs than a Friday-afternoon walkout.