chapter  12
25 Pages

Inequality and Growth: Prosperity for All

ByMichael Carolan

Growth nevertheless remains a sacred cow of sorts. Its costs may be great, but the costs of forgoing it, so the thinking goes, are even greater. Environmental degradation remains for many an unfortunate but necessary condition for future prosperity. Once a country surpasses a level where its average citizen makes approximately $15,000 annually, gains to life expectancy seem to become decoupled from subsequent economic growth. The problem with growth as currently practiced is not that it degrades the quality of life for some of the world's inhabitants. There is an enormous difference between an economy purposefully designed to be indifferent to growth, where prosperity and well-being increase in the absence of economic growth, and a failing growth economy, where growth, prosperity, and well-being all decline while inequality increases. In a failing growth economy, out-of-control unemployment and crushing state, household, and personal debt seriously threaten that society's social and political stability.