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Academic Special Session: Advancing Degrowth/Post-Growth Economics through Interdisciplinary Dialogue

modelling, indicators and alternative approaches

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Degrowth calls for a sustainable downscaling of production and consumption, to enhance well-being and environmental sustainability. It is important, for the widespread acceptance of this aim, to show how and under which conditions sustainable degrowth can be achieved. In order to gain a broad political legitimacy, the social and environmental effects of no-growth policies need to be shown and contrasted with business as usual scenarios in which the socio-environmental consequences of negative growth are tested.
Quantitative analysis and formal modelling are useful tools to provide a credible answer. Moreover, they are urgently needed in degrowth studies –a field which can be so far characterized for the prevalence of qualitative analysis and literature. In this perspective, it is important to integrate degrowth policies in the novel field of ecological macroeconomics: what results could the introduction of social and environmental policies have in a non-growing economy in terms of equity, employment, well-being, resource conservation or environmental quality?
The development of this kind of models is nowadays crucial to contrast conventional economic policy measures –such as austerity or stimulus policies- that have lately failed to reduce high levels of unemployment, poverty and insecurity and, at the meantime, not fostered economic growth.
While quantitative modelling and indicators provide ideas of the potential trajectories of various macroeconomic variables in a degrowth scenario they face certain limitations. A comprehensive understanding of the key dynamics in the economic system, and the structures of power within it, are key to holistically assess the potential of degrowth policies. That is why a Political Economy perspective as well as qualitative methods need to supplement purely quantitative approaches. Finally, model development is very limited to available macro-economic social and environmental indicators that fail to consider the full potential of a degrowth society which will be structured, simply, in a different way. A successful degrowth society will be tested on different indicators than the main ones in use today so that this special session also calls for contributions that propose alternative indicators for well-being and economic performance.
In the aim of establishing a sound macroeconomic framework that is fit for the purpose of dealing with the ecological and social challenges of our time we acknowledge the need to create dialogue between different disciplines, methodological and theoretical approaches as well as between actors from academic, politics, civil society, etc.. By facilitating these forms of exchange and cooperation the newly founded Post-Growth Economics Network (PEN) aims at contributing to the crucial task of advancing the study of the economics of a degrowth society.