Since the start of the first Industrial Revolution, economic growth has generally been seen as good and desirable. However, over the last forty years, the growth of the economy and the spread of prosperity have increasingly been seen as problematic rather than positive. While some are still willing to defend economic growth, highlighting the gains to humanity it has brought in terms of material wealth, technological progress, increased life expectancy and personal consumption, others accuse prosperity of encouraging greed, damaging the environment, causing unhappiness and widening social inequalities.
So, does economic growth offer solutions to the problems of the world, or is it one of them? Are there limits to growth, whether natural or social, or are possibilities limitless? Isn’t the pursuit of happiness more important than the acquisition of wealth? And, as the world enters yet another recession, is continuous economic growth even possible?