Steady State Economy

Individuals, Communities, Chamber of Commerce, Local and National Policy makers, NUIG, GMIT

While recent exponential economic growth has brought enormous material wealth and well-being to some, we cannot deny the fact that there is a limit to growth on a finite planet. Beyond a certain point of development, as is the case in wealthy nations of the world, growth causes more problems than it resolves. However, recession is neither desirable nor healthy. The constructive and sustainable alternative is a steady state economy.

A steady state economy is a type of economy that is truly green and sustainable in the long run. It’s an economy that aims to meet the needs of people and communities without exceeding ecological limits or over-stretching important life-supporting systems on planet Earth. It seeks to maximise long-term flourishing rather than short-term profit gains. In order to achieve this, a steady state economy does not alternate between periods of growth and contraction. Instead it maintains a relatively stable size over time, with that size being determined at a level that allows for healthy functioning of natural systems while also providing for human well-being.

The size of the economy is normally established by multiplying population by the amount of resources each person consumes. A steady state economy is a “true cost” economy that aims for stability, or mildly fluctuating levels in population and consumption of materials and energy over time, to ensure long-term sustainability for future generations. In order for Ireland to achieve a steady state economy, policy makers and the public would work in unison to plan and determine a desirable size for our economy. Once the desired parameters are established, Ireland’s steady state economy would function within our constitutional democracy with a mixture of markets and market regulations. So while market structures would continue to be employed to allocate resources efficiently, some key decisions, such as how big to grow or how much resources should be consumed per capita, would remain outside the market.
Centre for the Advancement of the Steady State Economy, Arlington, Virginia, USA
The Club of Rome, Winterthur, Switzerland
Tim Jackson (author of ‘Prosperity Without Growth’), Professor of Sustainable Development, University of Surrey, UK