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The Growth Illusion: How Economic Growth Has Enriched the Few, Impoverished the Many and Endangered the Planet [Paperback]

Richard Douthwaite
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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Book Description

1 Jan 1990
The idea that growth is beneficial underlies the economic strategies of all major political parties, but the reality of recent years is that the negative effects of growth have far outweighed any positive ones. In Ireland growth has been the root cause of unemployment; in Britain it has led to an eightfold increase in crime, the breakdown of family life and a deterioration in general levels of health and education; in the USA real incomes have fallen; in India people have been driven from the land into urban slums; and the natural world suffers increasing threat and inexorable erosion. The Growth Illusion exposes the real nature of undirected economic growth, and refutes Adam Smith's belief in the 'invisible hand' ensuring that self-interest would serve the common good. Rather than strive for constant expansion to stave off collapse, nations must learn to build stable economies. This new edition updates the text with an analysis of recent developments in the UK?and elsewhere.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 382 pages
  • Publisher: Green Books; 2nd Revised edition edition (1 Jan 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1870098765
  • ISBN-13: 978-1870098762
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,081,489 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description


"A controversial book whose findings will be debated by economists worldwide. Highly recommended." -- - Library Journal

"A great many people are now questioning growth's benefits, yet remain burdened with a lingering fear that ending the quest for growth may end human progress, confine the poor to eternal deprivation, and impose great sacrifice. The Growth Illusion puts such fears to rest with clarity, authority, and compassion. Its message is as profoundly hopeful as it is timely and important." -- -from the Foreword by David Korten, author of When Corporations Rule the World

"Here's an economist who can entertain, blowing the whistle on idiocies like the GNP (which makes a country stripping itself bare the best off in the world)... After reading Douthwaite's vivid and convincing case studies it becomes impossible to hear a politician promising recovery (and hence a new bout of consuming) without feeling mingled pity and contempt" -- - Rowland Morgan, The Independent on Sunday

"Richard Douthwaite is an economist with a sharp pen and a gift for nosing out statistics that show we have not progressed as we thought." -- Walter Schwarz, The Guardian

A terrific book, splendidly written and meticulously researched. I have no hesitation in calling Richard Douthwaite one of the best environmental journalists in the world." -- - James Downey, The Universe

About the Author

Richard Douthwaite is an economist and writer with a special interest in climate and energy issues and in local economic development. His best-known book, The Growth Illusion: How Economic Growth Enriched the Few, Impoverished the Many and Endangered the Planet explores the effects that the pursuit of growth has had on the environment and society. He is a co-founder of Feasta, the Foundation for the Economics of Sustainability, the Dublin-based international network of people who believe that the world's sustainability problems are due to the use of dysfunctional systems and are trying to develop better ones. His current projects include the design and introduction of novel financing arrangements for community energy projects and the management of the Carbon Cycles and Sinks Network which explores ways in which land-based greenhouse gas emissions can be reduced. He lives in Westport, Co. Mayo.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
31 of 34 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
'How economic growth has enriched the few, impoverished the many and endangered the planet.'
This is an excellent book, clearly written so that those of us not familiar with the world of economics can follow the author's arguments with ease. Richard Douthwaite shows us the proof that undirected, economic growth leads to unemployment, breakdown of family life, soaring crime rates and environmental destruction. It stands to reason that infinite growth cannot occur in a finite world, but that fact is exactly what most governments seem to ignore. Accordingly, they set their economic policies in motion as if there were no tomorrow. The introduction starts with a quote from Kenneth Boulding which states 'Anyone who believes exponential growth can go on forever in a finite world is either a madman or an economist' sets the tone for the rest of the book. The mind boggles at the shortsightedness of those who direct the world's economy. This book is a fascinating look at the nature of capitalism and whether or not continued economic growth is realistically or even morally feasible. It'll make you think. A must read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The author has a prescient insight into many flaws in macro economic expectations. It really is a 'must read' for anyone who is in a position to take an impartial view on the state of our world's economic shambles, as well as 'joe public' who is picking up the tabs for politically motivated and often misdirected economic planning.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Politicians, please note! 9 Mar 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Excellent book! It should be compulsory reading for all politicians, both local and national, as well as budding economics students.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Widens viewpoint. 17 Sep 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Give an interesting alternative aspect.
The treatment by English commerce to our colonies shows why they think what they do of us.
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Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Good, if a bit dated now. Needs a rewrite for the current decade. Excellent view of recent Irish economic history.
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