An Argentine/Latin American Perspective On Degrowth

[Articles and opinion pieces published in this blog do not necessarily reflect the policies and opinions of the organizers of  the International Conference on Degrowth in the Americas. They are posted here to stimulate discussion and debate on issues relevant
to degrowth.]

Tierramerica, May 10, 2012
By Marcela Valent

The controversial concept of degrowth receives little press coverage in a region like Latin America. But the idea of a way of life that is not aimed exclusively at GDP growth does have its proponents in Argentina… “Whether the discussion of degrowth will achieve a greater impact remains to be seen. There are groups pushing for a different kind of development, which challenge the prevailing model of production, but they don’t have a favorable cultural environment,” said Argentine social scientist Julio Gambina. The pursuit of growth persists as the consensus ideology in the region, which is why the degrowth debate has not gained widespread support, Gambina stressed. He believes the emphasis should not be on “degrowing” but rather on “growing in a different way.”… “GDP only counts what is created, and doesn’t subtract what is destroyed,” he explained. “Perhaps there are cases where GDP is lower, as in Cuba or Venezuela, but quality of life or the distribution of wealth improves. Social well-being is not necessarily tied to economic growth,” he said

Read the article here

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One Response to An Argentine/Latin American Perspective On Degrowth

  1. Pierre Champagne says:

    The quality of life approach for degrowth will appeal to some but not to many other. Lower incomes is a very hard thing to sell, even in the richest countries of the world. However…

    What the Degrowth debate and people are missing is that TOTAL GDP (a country’s total production) and PER CAPITA GDP (individual income) are two different things and is the key to the degrowth solution:

    You can have degrowth in total GDP and growth in INDIVIDUAL INCOME at the same time if you depopulate the planet (which is sorely needed for the environment anyway). It is grade 6 math! The whole (and simple) argument is outlined at the above link and detailed in a book called The Depletion Wall.

    A family of four having a total income of $40,000 (total GDP) would have per capita incomes for $10,000. If the same family had three people only, the per capita income would be $13,333. Let’s say we degrowth the total GDP by 12.5%, the per capita income would be $35,000 divided by 3 or $11,666 (representing a net personal income increase depite the 12.5% degrowth). Achieving a huge 25% degrowth would leave the per capita income at $10,000.

    The opposite is also true, population growth makes us all poorer…

    The Depopulation-Green Economic Environment strategy proposed in The Depletion Wall makes degrowth a viable avenue for the future.

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