The end of economic growth? A contracting threshold hypothesis

Philip Lawn, Matthew Clarke

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    26 Citations (Scopus)


    This paper argues that GDP growth in both developed and developing countries has associated costs that can outweigh the benefits and thus reduce sustainable well-being. This conclusion is based upon the findings of empirical applications of the Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI) to a range of countries in the Asia-Pacific region. The studies conducted on seven Asia-Pacific countries indicate that, in the case of five of the seven nations, more recent GDP growth has reduced the sustainable well-being experienced by the average citizen residing within them. Moreover, the threshold point at which the costs of GDP growth outweigh the benefits appears to be contracting (i.e., occurring at a much lower per capita level of GDP). This paper therefore introduces a new contracting threshold hypothesis: as the economies of the Asia-Pacific region and the world collectively expand in a globalised economic environment, there is a contraction over time in the threshold level of per capita GDP. As a consequence, the threshold point confronting growth late-comers (i.e., developing countries) occurs at a much lower level of sustainable welfare than what wealthy nations currently enjoy. The consequences of this for developing countries are clearly significant and require a new approach to economic development.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)2213-2223
    Number of pages11
    JournalEcological Economics
    Issue number11
    Publication statusPublished - 2010

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