Fortunately, Much of the Most Difficult Work (rethinking economic growth) Has Been Done
Sociobiology and neuro-economics, for example, are often posing and making exciting new research hypothesis and findings. Economist Erin D. Beinhocker writes in The Origin of Wealth: Evolution, Complexity and the Radical Remaking of Economics:
What is wealth? How it is created? How can it be increased?…New answers to these fundamental questions are beginning to emerge….from biologist, physicists, evolutionary theorists, computer scientists, anthropologists, psychologists, and cognitive scientists…..Modern science, in particular evolutionary theory and the theory of complex adaptive systems, provides us with a radically new perspective…
And, for the rethinking of textbook concepts–necessary, but overwhelmingly arcane to most people–the French government recently appointed two winners of the Nobel Prize in economics to head its Commission on the Measurement of Economic Performance and Social Progress. (http://www.stiglitz-sen-fitoussi.fr/en/index.htm)
The Commission’s findings and recommendations, released in 2009, seemed radical to some people, but came as no surprise to most experts. Historian Gar Alperovitz, for example, wrote in The Nation (“The New Economy Movement,” June 13, 2011):
As many scholars have demonstrated, the gross national product indicator is profoundly misleading: for instance, both work that generates pollution and work that cleans it up are registered as positive in the GNP, although the net real-world economic gain is zero, and there is a huge waste of labor on both sides of the effort. Precisely how to develop a “dashboard” of indicators that measure genuine economic gain, environmental destruction, even human happiness is one of NEI’s high priorities. Another is a detailed econometric model of how a very large economic system can move away from growth as its central objective. Related to both are earlier and ongoing Great Transition studies by the Tellus Institute, a think tank concerned with sustainability.
Unfortunately, mainstream media and academics in the U.S. quickly rejected such work as unnecessary, not useful, and “too French.”