Policy Sciences

, Volume 5, Issue 2, pp 149–167 | Cite as

Steady-state economics versus growthmania: A critique of the orthodox conceptions of growth, wants, scarcity, and efficiency

  • Herman E. Daly


Section I discusses the “growthmania” mind-set and considers various types of limits to growth ignored by adherents to this majority position.

Section II investigates the conceptual roots of growthmania: the orthodox doctrines of relative scarcity and absolute wants. It is argued that at the margin the opposite categories of absolute scarcity and relative wants are more important, and that just as the implication of the former categories was growthmania, so the implication of the latter (opposite) categories is a steady-state economy.

Section III defines and discusses the alternative to a growth-oriented economy, namely a steadystate economy.

Section IV discusses the notions of efficiency and technical progress from the steady-state perspective, and argues that growth in output flow as conventionally measured results, beyond some point, in a reduction in both the service efficiency of the stock and the maintenance efficiency of the throughput, and thereby makes throughput growth a perverse index of welfare.

In Section V the issue of transition to and appropriate institutions for a steady-state are discussed.

Section VI considers in more detail an institution for controlling aggregate throughput, namely a system of auctioned depletion quotas, and contrasts it with the orthodox recommendation of pollution taxes.


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Copyright information

© Elsevier Scientific Publishing Company 1974

Authors and Affiliations

  • Herman E. Daly
    • 1
  1. 1.Louisiana State UniversityBaton RougeUSA

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