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Prosperity without Growth: Economics for a Finite Planet [Paperback]

Tim Jackson
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)
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Book Description

18 Mar 2011

Is more economic growth the solution? Will it deliver prosperity and well-being for a global population projected to reach nine billion? In this explosive book, Tim Jackson - a top sustainability adviser to the UK government - makes a compelling case against continued economic growth in developed nations.

No one denies that development is essential for poorer nations. But in the advanced economies there is mounting evidence that ever-increasing consumption adds little to human happiness and may even impede it. More urgently, it is now clear that the ecosystems that sustain our economies are collapsing under the impacts of rising consumption. Unless we can radically lower the environmental impact of economic activity - and there is no evidence to suggest that we can - we will have to devise a path to prosperity that does not rely on continued growth.

Economic heresy? Or an opportunity to improve the sources of well-being, creativity and lasting prosperity that lie outside the realm of the market? Tim Jackson provides a credible vision of how human society can flourish � within the ecological limits of a finite planet. Fulfilling this vision is simply the most urgent task of our times.

This book is a substantially revised and updated version of Jackson's controversial study for the Sustainable Development Commission, an advisory body to the UK Government. The study rapidly became the most downloaded report in the Commission's nine year history when it was launched earlier this year.


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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge; Reprint edition (18 Mar 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1849713235
  • ISBN-13: 978-1849713238
  • Product Dimensions: 20.8 x 14.7 x 2.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 39,632 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Review

'On a planet with finite resources, perpetual growth is not only impossible, but it is endangering the survival of present and future generations. I urge everyone to read Tim Jackson's brilliant and visionary book. He offers a detailed critique of the existing economic paradigm, and makes compelling suggestions for a shared and lasting prosperity.' - Bianca Jagger, Founder and Chair, Bianca Jagger Human Rights Foundation; Council of Europe Goodwill Ambassador; Member of the Executive Director's Leadership Council, Amnesty International, USA; Trustee, Amazon Charitable Trust

'In a world of massive inequality and limited resources, Tim Jackson asks the fundamental questions of what prosperity really is and how we can invest not just in material goods but in each other. This is an outstandingly intelligent and creative contribution to debate.' - The Most Revd and Rt Hon Dr Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury

'Tim Jackson offers a penetrating insight into our current state of affairs, and a thought-provoking pathway towards redesigning our future.' - Dame Ellen MacArthur

'The question of whether progressives should abandon growth or continue a champion it remains unresolved. But attempts to short-circuit that debate by dismissing de-growth as 'pie-in-the-sky' now face the demanding task of refuting this impressive work. I look forward to Tim Jackson's further elaboration of it.' - David Choat, Policy Progress blog

'One of the most outstanding pieces of environmental economics literature in recent years' - Le Monde

'A new movement seems to be emerging, and this superbly written book should be the first stop for anyone wanting a manifesto... In terms of a worldview for the new decade and beyond, this could well be the most important book you will read.' - The Guardian

'One of the best books of 2009' - Financial Times

'Bold and provocative...' - The New York Times

'In the teeth of the economic crisis, Jackson has written the most important book that could possibly be written now.' - James Gustave Speth, author of The Bridge at the Edge of the World

'This might well become as important for sustainable development as the Brundtland Report.' - Paul-Marie Boulanger, Director of IDD

'Prosperity without Growth's hugely encouraging and thrilling theme is that humanity can prosper without growth.In fact there is no other way left to us.' - Dr Robert Goodland, former Adviser to the World Bank Group, winner of World Conservation Union's Coolidge Medal of Honor, 2008

'Tim Jackson's book simply resets the agenda for Western society.' - Bernie Bulkin, SDC commissioner for Climate Change, Energy and Transport

'A must-read for anyone concerned with issues of climate change and sustainability - bold, original and comprehensive. We have to define prosperity and welfare differently from the past and separate them from economic growth measured as GDP: this work shows how we should set about the task.' - Anthony Giddens, Emeritus Professor, London School of Economics

'Jackson's cutting edge research has already begun to re-define the debate about how to achieve a future of human and planetary well-being. A must-read.' - Juliet Schor, author of Plenitude: The New Economics of True Wealth, and Professor of Sociology, Boston College

'Jackson goes after the complacency and dishonesty at the heart of contemporary politics, and provides a brilliant and compelling account of the crucial importance of the growth debate.' - Jonathon Porritt, former chair of the UK Sustainable Development Commission

 'The best account of the financial crises and the state of society I have read in a long time. . . The beauty is that the change that is needed will make us happier.' - Clare Short, MP

'Zero growth is not only necessary, it is inevitable and will supercede Selfish Capitalism. In this brilliant analysis, Tim Jackson lays bare a system in crisis and lights the way forward.' - Oliver James, Author of Affluenza

'Tim Jackson provides a convincing case as to why conventional economic growth has not and cannot deliver prosperity. By showing why this is the case, we have the tools to start to build an economy based on sustainable development.' - Jan Bebbington, Professor of Accounting and Sustainable Development, University of St Andrews

'A vital, much-needed, and timely work that deserves to be widely read, this is more than a brilliant treatise on the difficulties of developing a truly sustainable economy. It is also an important contribution to the increasingly urgent debate over the nature of the good life and the good society.' - Professor Colin Campbell, Emeritus Professor of Sociology, University of York

'Economic growth is both unsustainable on a finite planet and undesirable in its failure to continue to improve real welfare. What we need is true prosperity without growth. Why we must have this and how it can be achieved are compellingly explained in this essential work. It is not sacrifice to adopt the measures advocated. It is a sacrifice of our current and future well-being not to.' - Robert Costanza, Portland State University Professor of Sustainability and Director, Institute for Sustainable Solutions

'Provokes official thought on the unthinkable. No small accomplishment! I hope this gets the serious attention it deserves.' - Professor Herman Daly, author of Steady-State Economics and recipient of the Honorary Right Livelihood Award (Sweden's alternative to the Nobel Prize)

'What makes it unthinkable to stop growth even though it is killing us? Tim Jackson boldly confronts the structural Catch-22 that drives this madness and proposes in this lucid, persuasive, and blessedly readable book how we might begin to get off the fast track to self-destruction. Don't miss it!' - Dianne Dumanoski, author of The End of the Long Summer and co-author of Our Stolen Future

'Tim Jackson cuts through the official cant and wishful thinking to tell us what we have refused to admit we cannot preserve a habitable planet and pursue endless economic growth at the same time. In an era when all ideologies have failed, this book lays out the basis for the only viable political philosophy for the 21st century.' - Clive Hamilton, Author of Growth Fetish and Professor of Public Ethics, Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics, Australia (Forthcoming Earthscan title: Requiem for a Species)

'If you want to understand why current growth centric economics is not fit for purpose then read this book. This is the clearest and most important contribution to proving it's time to rethink growth economics in order to live the low carbon, poverty free and one planet life we all need and want.' - Alan Knight, Founder of Singleplanetliving

'Endless growth on a finite planet, or endless misery-spreading recession, both represent impossible futures. Here are some very powerful steps towards a possible, indeed a very hopeful, alternate outcome!' - Bill McKibben, author of Deep Economy

'We were delighted when Professor Jackson spoke at our July Meeting at Lloyds Banking HQ in London. He endorsed the feelings of many in the BCSD-UK that business as usual is not an option. His clear and concise challenge of what is considered convention is timely and highly appropriate.' - David Middleton, CEO, Business Council for Sustainable Development UK

'Prosperity without Growth says it all: informatively, clearly, inspiringly, critically and constructively, starting from the very troubled, unsustainable and unsatisfying economy we have today and providing a robust combination of suggestions for going toward a sustainable economy and fulfilling lives.' - Richard Norgaard, University of California, Berkeley

'Rising consumption may not be sustainable, due to climate change, energy shortfalls, and to social and psychological harms. In this compelling argument, Tim Jackson shows how urgent it is to think of what might replace it, and what to aim for.' - Avner Offer, Professor of Economic History at Oxford, author of Challenge of Affluence

'Stimulating and timely. This is the best attempt I've seen to build a trans-disciplinary critique of economic growth, with prescriptions based in economic theory.' - Ronan Palmer, Chief Economist, The Environment Agency

'Tim Jackson's book is a powerful intellectual challenge to an economic orthodoxy out of touch with the real world of physical limits, global warming and peaking oil reserves. It is refreshingly rigorous, honest and hopeful.' - Ann Pettifor, Fellow of the new economics foundation and co-author of the Green New Deal

'When it comes to resolving the tension between the environment and the economy the watchword should be 'less is more'. If you want to find out how we could all be healthier, wealthier and a lot wiser you should read this book.' - Molly Scott Cato, Reader in Green Economics, Cardiff School of Management and Economics Speaker for the Green Party

'We live in a finite world but with infinite demands. Human wants, political convenience and intellectual inertia trump planetary limits. Tim Jackson makes headway in setting signposts towards a more sustainable future.' - Camilla Toulmin, Director of the International Institute for Environment & Development (IIED)

'This is one of the most brilliant analyses I've seen. It is a thoughtful and action-oriented masterpiece, with an eye open to how to overcome resistance to the task ahead.' - Arnold Tukker, Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research

'Tim Jackson's book clearly demonstrates how our passion for consumption drives unsustainable results and it opens up the potential for a new model of consumerism that delivers a more sustainable world.' - Chris Tuppen, Chief Sustainability Officer, British Telecom

'This is an important work, well worth reading.' - Darcy Hitchcock, author of The Business Guide to Sustainability

'It's easy to lament the unsustainable nature of growth economics. It's slightly harder to re-imagine it on the other side. Hardest of all is to detail the transition, how you get from growth to a steady state without breaking the economy. That's the missing piece, and Tim Jackson has boldly stepped into the breach with a book that is clear, balanced and free of political bias. This isn't a blueprint for such a transition, but it does show that it is possible. For that, Prosperity Without Growth has got to be one of the most important books of the year.' - www.makewealthhistory.org

'[Tim Jackson] has done us a tremendous service in putting the debate into practical and comprehensible language, deferring some of the derivations and details to endnotes and appendices, and organizing his message into short self-contained chapters with well researched and documented source material. This book will be a widely read and influential basis for practical exposition of many of our underlying concerns and ideas for their solution to the broader public.' - Ecological Economics

'Jackson's analysis is truly unique in meticulously disentangling the interdependencies between the economic logic of production, the social logic of consumption, and the conflicting position of the state that keeps the unsustainable machinery of growth moving. Jackson also provides an original perspective that identifies leverage points for change that hold the prospect of eventual effectiveness. I have not encountered such a bright and insightful analysis since the path-breaking work of the Donella and Dennis Meadows and Herman Daly.' - Journal of Industrial Ecology

'Budget cuts remind us of our unsustainable current financial system, but the crisis also creates space to consider alternatives. GDP is still king, but in a recent lecture Prof Jackson described how senior civil servants are beginning to debate his alternatives. I think this book can provide us with a language to develop these long overdue debates ourselves.' - Rob Couch, Environmental Health News.

'A hard read but rewarding if you can stay the course.' - Judy Kirby, The Friend

'It is clear that the current pattern of economic growth is simply unsustainable. Jackson in Prosperity without Growth makes the case very clearly and convincingly.' - Fran Baum, Australian Options

'Presents a case against continued economic growth in developed nations and considers how human society can flourish within the ecological limits of a finite planet by reducing emphasis on growth' - Journal of Economic Literature, June 2010

'He recognises that to avoid enormous social disruption, it will take committed governance to manage these changes. I have no idea what critical mass of citizens will be needed to bring such governance. All I can do is to sign up with renewed faith.' - Phil Kingston, Renew

'Prosperity without Growth gets my 'twice read' honour...the book reads something like a novel...Finally, I asked my wife Angie to read the book and summarise it for me. Her conclusion? 'This is a good book that will change your life. Read it' - Vinod Bhatia, JIE

'The form is good - and so is the content. This innovative book is recommended to readers seeking insight into the governance and policy challenges of spreading prosperity while safeguarding the environment.' - getAbstract

'I thought the book was splendid. Jackson's writing is lucid and well organised. He has a gift for the telling sentence.' - Bryan Walker, Hot Topic

About the Author

Tim Jackson is Professor of Sustainable Development at the University of Surrey and Director of RESOLVE. He also directs the follow-on project: the Sustainable Lifestyles Research Group (SLRG).

 


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
83 of 85 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
"An economy predicated on the perpetual expansion of debt-driven materialistic consumption is unsustainable ecologically, problematic socially, and unstable economically" writes Jackson, before explaining three reasons why the growth model of economics is impossible to sustain. Firstly, it assumes that material wealth is an adequate measure of prosperity, when it is actually pretty obvious that a life worth living is much more complicated than that."Our technologies, our economy and our social aspirations are all mis-aligned with any meaningful definition of prosperity"

Secondly, growth is unevenly distributed, and so is doomed to fail at providing a basic standard of living for everyone. Globally, the richest fifth of the world takes home 74% of the income, while the poorest fifth gets just 2%. And thirdly,"we simply don't have the ecological capacity" says Jackson. "By the end of the century, our children and grandchildren will face a hostile climate, depleted resources, the destruction of habitats, the decimation of species, food scarcities, mass migrations and almost inevitably war."

By way of solutions, Jackson prescribes a "new ecologically literate macro-economics" and "shifting the social logic of consumerism", and this is where Prosperity Without Growth comes into its own. It's easy to lament the unsustainable nature of growth economics. It's slightly harder to re-imagine it on the other side. Hardest of all is to detail the transition, how you get from growth to a steady state without breaking the economy. That's the missing piece, and Tim Jackson has boldly stepped into the breach with a book that is clear, balanced and free of political bias. This isn't a blueprint for such a transition, but it does show that it is possible.
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70 of 72 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The new frugality 25 Nov 2009
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
As manifestos go, Prosperity Without Growth ranks as one of the more
well-mannered. Its critique of the path we are taking is devastating.
We have, Jackson persuasively argues, embarked on a consumerist road
which is utterly unsustainable - and ultimately unsatisfying. We are locked in because economic stability has become predicated on continuous growth - the survival of the entire system is thrown into jeopardy if economic growth slows. Governments, even somewhat enlightened governments, find themselves putting materialistic consumption above all else.

There are few villains. No greedy bankers, no grasping multinationals. Rather, as Jackson tells it, we are all victims of a collective self-delusion. Consumer goods become part of `a social conversation' with our families, friends and others because we invest them with meaning, with emotion. Consequently weaning ourselves off retail therapy isn't half as straightforward as you might think.

Prosperity without Growth catches the popular mood of disenchantment in much the same way as Oliver James's Affluenza. Jackson's diagnosis is a good deal more sharply defined than his prescriptions for change: he demands (politely, of course) the "pursuit of an individual frugality". Still here is a well-argued, well-written book which is plainly intent on winning over the sceptical mainstream.
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93 of 98 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A bit of a disappointment 30 April 2010
By Jezza
Format:Hardcover
I ought to have liked this a lot more than I did. I've been looking forward to it. I agree with the main thesis. I find a lot of the arguments convincing. And yet...the structure is somehow wrong. It's not clear what the book is for; it's not strongly argued enough to be polemic in favour of green economics. It's not rigorous enough to convince other economists, let alone ones of a different bent. It's not likely to convince policy-makers, or give them a tool-box of policies to pick up and use. It's somehow less than the sum of its parts - unlike, say, 'The Spirit Level, to which it makes frequent reference.

There are a few separate arguments in the book, most of which are familiar territory. Money doesn't make you happy, and neither does more stuff; there are references to the literature on this, but they are not specially comprehensive or specially convincing. There is some stuff about the iron cage of consumerism, but I preferred the WWF pamphlet on the same subject. There is some theoretical stuff about the flow of goods and savings, but it didn't seem to me (a non-economist) to engage sufficiently with the money system - or to take on board the consequences of a no-growth society for pensions. Nothing much about other forms of organisation for economic activity - co-ops, mutuals and so on, or gift economies. I don't think Open Source got a mention once.

The section on 'the myth of decoupling' is the most powerful, but arguably should have been longer - decoupling is the last best hope of the 'growth-ist' who has acknowledged that the world has limits. In the ICT world, it is constantly trotted out as the reason why the industry can keep growing and still be contributing to sustainability - because it helps other industries to decarbonise.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
The Sustainable Development Commission (SDC) was a non-departmental public body responsible for advising the government on sustainable development and set up by the Labour Government in June 2000. In the foreword to this book, published by the SDC, Prof Tim Jackson writes: "Every society clings to a myth by which it lives. Ours is the myth of economic growth. ... It's totally at odds with our scientific knowledge of the finite resource base and the fragile ecology on which we depend for survival. ... Prosperity consists in our ability to flourish as human beings - within the ecological limits of a finite planet. The challenge for our society is to create the conditions under which this is possible. It is the most urgent task of our times."

PROSPERITY WITHOUT GROWTH argues that growth is driven by the dynamic of production and consumption of novelty and that somehow this needs to end. It argues for heavy investment targeted carefully to energy security, low-carbon infrastructures and ecological protection and work-time policies so that people spend more time in leisure giving more opportunity for otherwise unemployed people to work. In all it puts forward 12 steps towards creating a sustainable economy. They are not all easy for the non-specialist to follow, but overall the argument looks very persuasive. Let's hope Ed Miliband is reading it.

The Commission was closed down by the Coalition Government in March 2011- an act of ideology and nihilism which verges on lunacy.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Thought provoking
Published 1 month ago by graeme
4.0 out of 5 stars informative
I have only read part of it, From what I have seen the rest wii l be just as good! Great
Published 7 months ago by A. E. Beirne
4.0 out of 5 stars It's going to be much tougher than I thought
For some time I've known that the world can't continue as it is. Quite simply, infinite growth in a finite world doesn't add up. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Paul Simister
5.0 out of 5 stars book looks like new. great service
Everything was fine. The book was there within the time, it was in a good shape and the price was okay as well. Thanks again!
Published 9 months ago by Patrick Elf
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read
There is one planet. No tricks of finance or economy can change that - it's a physical fact. Unless you think we can start to mine asteroids in a year or two, the reading of this... Read more
Published 9 months ago by Andreas Borell
5.0 out of 5 stars Cheap
Cheap, second hand hardback, but very good condition. I am very happy with it. The book should be an interesting read.
Published 9 months ago by Geo
5.0 out of 5 stars If everyone could only read one book, this should be it.
This is an eloquent and compassionate indictment of an economy based on constant buying of new things, for no other reason than they are new. Read more
Published 14 months ago by Clare Misselbrook
5.0 out of 5 stars Growth? Who needs it?
I've been worried for a long time that there seemed to be no proper academic study of an economic system without "growth" as the universal answer - even though indefinite... Read more
Published 15 months ago by D. G. N. English
5.0 out of 5 stars The urgent need for real big change
In a world rich with potentially game-changing books, Tim Jackson's Prosperity Without Growth remains an absolute MUST READ. Read more
Published 17 months ago by Dr. K. Rawles
5.0 out of 5 stars A great book!
A milestone in the field. Really worth buying it, I got a lot of knowledge with this book. Very good.
Published 17 months ago by Guilherme
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