88 of 92 people found the following review helpful
A bit of a disappointment,
This review is from: Prosperity without Growth: Economics for a Finite Planet (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. Jackson's arguments are strong and convincing here, but I still felt that there ought to have been a relentless pounding of evidence - like in 'The Spirit Level'. I'm convinced that decoupling is a myth, but I don't feel empowered to convince others.
All in all, not as good as it should have been.