Newsletter: Does Economic Growth Cost Too Much?

Does Economic Growth Cost Too Much Open to Debate


Peter Victor
Environmental Studies Professor Emeritus and Senior Scholar
at York University


Katherine Mangu-Ward
Editor-in-Chief of Reason



Here is what we have in store this week:

We debate whether the way we currently measure economic growth is the only measure to consider

A closer look at how the world economy will grow by region next year, based on the standard measure

A list of debates to listen to about Israel, Palestine, the Middle East, and more

Your Sunday reading list



Since the 1930s, countries, economists, and investors around the world have used GDP to measure the size of national and global economies, based on the monetary value of goods and services. Understandably, it’s natural to praise how far economic growth has grown since then. But some policymakers and economists are wondering whether the kind of high economic growth we have now is as desirable as we think — or if there’s a ceiling we’re yet to hit.

What is degrowth? As an economic model focused on creating a more sustainable planet, some propose economic degrowth which involves shrinking developed economies rather than growing through excess consumption to use less of the world’s resources and putting peoples’ well-being over profits.

What are the arguments? Those who say it costs too much argue the main measurement we use is limited and doesn’t tell the full story, given rising inequality and persistent poverty even in wealthy nations and overlooking its impact on climate change. Those saying it doesn’t cost too much argue that the continuous pursuit of growth drives prosperity and innovation and helps people by providing public services and infrastructure development

This week, we debate: Does Economic Growth Cost Too Much? Arguing “yes” is Peter Victor, a professor emeritus and senior scholar at York University who has studied the environment and the economy for over fifty years. Arguing “no” is Reason’s editor-in-chief Katherine Mangu-Ward, who believes economic growth is a vehicle for countries to solve problems and populations to live better lives.

Listen to this debate now as a podcast — and as always, let us know what you think.



Compared to other developing countries, the U.S. is expected to have less economic growth next year.
















Does Economic Growth Cost Too Much?



“Our way of measuring growth is not informing us well. It doesn’t inform us about wellbeing. My perspective is that we should be directing our efforts towards the things that contribute directly to wellbeing: better education, better health, more democratic rights, and not measure that against what [it] does… for GDP.”

Peter Victor



“Economic growth has played a pivotal role in promoting individual rights and personal freedoms. As economies expand, societies become more inclusive, they become more pluralistic. Prosperity empowers the middle classes, and higher income levels are linked to stronger democratic institutions.”

Katherine Mangu-Ward




In light of the heightened attention to the war in Israel and Gaza, we wanted to flag to those interested the extensive list of debates we have produced around the Israel-Palestine conflict, all of which shed light on what is happening now. Topics include the true nature of Hamas, the meaning of the U.S.-Israel relationship, the role of Iran, the impact of Benjamin Netanyahu’s leadership, and others. They are all searchable through our library, which can be found here.

Given how the war is dividing American college campuses, where the discourse has become increasingly fraught, we’re going ahead next week with a featured re-release of a debate we produced a while back that goes directly at what it means to be pro-Israel or pro-Palestine, in light of the long legacy of anti-Semitism. When is criticism of Israel fair? And when does it cross a line? The debate question: Is Anti-Zionism the New Anti-Semitism?




Israel: Sirens Sounding
Edward Lucas | October 15, 2023
Watch Edward’s debate on whether Russia is a marginal power



A Simple Solution to End Frivolous Climate Lawsuits
Jonathan Lesser | October 13, 2023
National Review
Watch Jonathan’s debate on whether your electric vehicle helps the planet



The Roots of Today’s Authoritarianism Come From a 19th Century Supreme Court Ruling
Sheryll Cashin | October 9, 2023
Watch Sheryll’s debate on whether the SAT should be erased



Weekend thinking: How much of your income do you spend for food?
Marion Nestle | October 13, 2023
Food Politics
Watch Marion’s debate on whether we should eat more processed foods


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