A Scan of Critical World Developments
Still Going for Growth
Those concerned with the health of the planet and the well-being of all its citizens have been ever more forcefully questioning the mainstream policy emphasis on economic growth. Rather than serving as a sound metric for sustainable development, they argue, feckless growth trends toward greater inequality and environmental risk. Nevertheless, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the club of industrialized countries, has continued to publish Going for Growth, its annual report identifying policy priorities for improving material living standards, every year since 2005. The OECD clings to GDP per capita as its preferred measure of economic performance and well-being, ignoring the findings of the 2008 Stiglitz Commission report on the inadequacy of such a metric for measuring social progress. The most recent Going for Growth report at least acknowledges the adverse environmental impacts that can accompany growth, offering suggestions for limiting such impacts but never reconsidering its basic premises. Undeterred, the OECD fosters long-term growth year in and year out, downplaying the risks to natural resources and the integrity of the biosphere, the ultimate basis for a healthy, balanced economy. The OECD’s next report in its Going for Growth series should carry a warning label.