The end of growth?

"Une croissance illimitée dans un monde limité est une absurdité"
Translation: "Unlimited growth in a limited world is absurd" (it sounds so much better in French)

The "I have a mango" project are putting together a book of articles they have written concerning sustainable development. I always thought I was very conscious about sustainable development, always recycling, walking a lot etc. However I had never really linked sustainable development to my academic background, so I decided to write an article bringing these two areas together, leading to an unsettling conclusion. Below is the start of the article, you can download the whole document here: The end of growth?

When people ask me what I studied at university I always make them promise, before I reveal my darkest secret, that they won’t judge me. When they agree, I admit, "I studied economics". My faux shame is a joke; I have a true passion for the subject but I do believe there is something in the old saying “there is no truer word than one said in jest”.

You can probably understand that in the current zeitgeist following a global recession, anyone associated with banking or economics is a fair target for abuse. However I would always console myself and others with the fact that my specialisation was development economics, and therefore I am different to those money grabbing corporate types. Although I don’t follow the neoclassical mantra that development is synonymous with growth, I do believe that, as Amartyr Sen concisely notes, “economic growth is one aspect of the process of economic development”. Leaving aside the debate about the appropriate measures of development, basically as a development economist I was interested not in profit but in helping countries grow economically. It certainly seemed like a noble goal.