We can’t possibly do without economic growth! This is the mantra repeated by the political and economic establishment, from the far right to the Trade Union movement’s leadership. This claim we know to be illiterate in terms of social welfare, distribution and ecology but could an economy actually function without growth?
There have been attempts to answer this question by ecological economists Peter Victor and Tim Jackson. Victor conducted macroeconomic modelling based on the Canadian economy to demonstrate that growth is not necessary to prevent poverty, unemployment, and economic collapse. Jackson used this material in his Prosperity Without Growth report and book.
But it has also been argued that capitalism relies on, is for the purpose of, capital accumulation and therefore has a built in requirement for growth. However, it is instructive to look at what is by most accounts a successful modern developed economy with low growth rates to try and understand the issues. What follows is an initial look at some of the statistics about the German economy, in comparison with that of the UK, in relation to this question.