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Prosperity Without Growth: Economics for a Finite Planet

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  1,516 ratings  ·  152 reviews
Is more economic growth the solution? Will it deliver prosperity and well-being for a global population projected to reach nine billion? In this explosive book, Tim Jackson - a top sustainability adviser to the UK government - makes a compelling case against continued economic growth in developed nations.

No one denies that development is essential for poorer nations. But i
Hardcover, 264 pages
Published October 16th 2009 by Routledge
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Although, as a longtime environmentalist, I'm a member of the choir that this author is preaching to, I found myself resisting much of what he was saying, and I certainly could not imagine that a gung-ho, pro-growth, climate-change skeptic would be moved by the arguments presented in this book. My main takeaway was the realization of just how far apart people can be who are supposedly on the same team.

For one thing I had problems with the style and presentation of the book. The heavy use of sent
Apr 20, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: economics
“And I am a weapon of massive consumption / And it’s not my fault it’s how I’m programmed to function,” “The Fear,” Lily Allen

NB: I have taken advantage of the “spoiler” tag to append notes and asides that don’t directly bear on this review. The reader may open them or not as he or she pleases.

Coming as it does on the heels of Derrick Jensen’s Endgame: Volume 1: The Problem of Civilization and Herman Daly’s Beyond Growth: The Economics of Sustainable Development, reading Tim Jackson’s Prosperity
Aug 29, 2018 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 20, 2012 rated it liked it
This is an important, serious but ultimately disappointing book. Important because it grapples with the vital task of how to redefine economics in a world of limited resources and an ever more damaged climate. Serious, because it approaches the task stage by stage, confronting some of the important issues which any change of this magnitude must face. But disappointing, because it still leaves us dangling, wondering exactly what a society which adopted this completely different set of objectives ...more
Dec 09, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: economics
An important and much cited book on sustainability circles. However, it covers little new ground. Much is based on the Club of Rome's [i]Limits to Growth[/i], some of the modeling is based on Herman Daly's [i]Steady State Economy[/i], both 40 years old. Sure, he introduces new data and confirms that the same disturbing trends continue. There are a few relevant studies cited that show material wealth is not the same as happiness, and his summary of what really matters to people more than money dr ...more
Feb 17, 2014 rated it liked it

In these post-2008 times of perpetual recession and economic uncertainty, governments around the world remain obsessed with maintaining economic growth. Never again must we anger our free-market gods, and their fickle invisible hand, they say. But why is this? Why do our market economies require perpetual growth to be healthy? And why does our society assume greater wealth will bring us greater well-being? These are two fundamental questions Tim Jackson sets out to address in his popular-economi

Chris Jensen
Dec 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing
When I made the move from engineering to acting, I was fortunate to find a teacher early in my training that translated what can be a very airy-fairy touchy-feely language that often pervade acting technique into a clear and structured approach to acting training.

I have found the same in my experience with environmental and community groups issues.
"You can't pursue infinite growth on a finite planet", "consumerism and materialism are undermining our community and humanity", these are all things
Aug 09, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Tim Jackson tackles the problem of persuading us to take the obvious conclusion that infinite growth on a finite planet is impossible seriously, by sending up the myth of decoupling - the decarbonisation of economic activity can't happen fast enough to prevent ecological disaster unless population and affluence stop increasing too. Inequality has to be addressed, both globally and within societies suffering from affluenza...

We need immense structural changes and a redefinition of prosperity; an
Kevin Zeck
Jul 27, 2012 rated it really liked it
Too many big words strung together to form too many over long sentences. But that said, the authors make a couple of really good points. First, growth-based capitalism is like running on an ever accelerating treadmill. It's an inherently chaotic system we can't keep up with. Second, growth-based capitalism requires significant resource consumption, which is becoming problematic given the world's population and desire to emulate Western-lifestyles. Third, growth-based economics forces us to sacri ...more
Eustacia Tan
May 10, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I don’t normally see the National Reading Movement SG account share economic books so when it talked about Prosperity Without Growth by Tim Jackson, I made a note to borrow it. It’s been some time since I read a serious economics book and I wanted to challenge my brain a little.

In Prosperity Without Growth, Tim Jackson makes the argument that the perpetual growth model that countries are following are not sustainable. What we need, he argues, is a redefinition of the term “prosperity”, divorcing
Matthew Dahlhausen
Underwhelming. Significant gaps.

Tim Jackson, with the UK Sustainable Development Commission, published 'Prosperity without Growth' to summarize the commission's findings for the general public. The intent of the work is to raise awareness for alternative economic models in the wake of the financial collapse. The book reads as a summary report with moderate depth and extensive references.

The book does a good job of describing why alternative economic models are necessary. The first reason are ec
Jens Honnen
Sep 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
Jackson forwards an idea that is at the core of the challenges of our day and age: We live under an economic system that has come off track in the pursuit of human prosperity. Sure, the history of capitalism has been accompanied by a general rise in living standards: people are less poor, better nourished, better educated and so on. But at the same time, our societies are shockingly unequal and our ecosystems increasingly degraded. At the state of current rate of growth, the global economy doubl ...more
Feb 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Here is the review of the book that made me want to read it:

Prosperity without Growth: Economics for a Finite Planet by Tim Jackson

Jeremy Leggett, The Guardian, Friday 22 January 2010

"Tim Jackson states the challenge starkly: "Questioning growth is deemed to be the act of lunatics, idealists and revolutionaries. But question it we must." And that is the core mission of this perfectly timed book. Had he published it before the financial crisis, he would probably have been dismissed as another gre
Jan 25, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: ecology, socsci, politics

The goal is worthy, of course. In a finite world nothing can grow larger for ever... neither lemming nor human population numbers, neither global oil production nor GDP. In our case the end of growth seems likely to come sooner rather than later, given that we are already in ecological overshoot, about to be confronted with peak fossil fuels, and with catastrophic climate change a few decades away if we continue with Business As Usual. So, we can either think about what growth is su
Jul 24, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a worthy addition to the roster of post-crisis "trade" economics books (see also Nouriel Roubini, Paul Mason, John Lanchester and others), concentrating as it does on the very concept that fostered economics as a discipline in the first place - that of resource scarcity.

There is now a considerable literature that argues for an alternative to Gross Domestic and Gross National Product as measures of wellbeing and this goes all the way back to Victor Anderson's Alternative Economics Indica
Routledge Economics
Jul 30, 2011 rated it really liked it
This is a worthy addition to the roster of post-crisis "trade" economics books (see also Nouriel Roubini, Paul Mason, John Lanchester and others), concentrating as it does on the very concept that fostered economics as a discipline in the first place - that of resource scarcity.

There is now a considerable literature that argues for an alternative to Gross Domestic and Gross National Product as measures of wellbeing and this goes all the way back to Victor Anderson's Alternative Economics Indica
Todd Wheeler
Nov 08, 2011 rated it liked it
A challenging book and one not easily accessible as a casual read. The premise is stated early on:
"The possibility that humans can flourish, achieve greater social cohesion, find higher levels of well-being, and still reduce their material impact on the environment is an intriguing one." p.47

Yes indeed. However, it takes most of the book to get to that point. The author spends a great deal of time debunking the current model of capitalistic growth used in many Western developed countries as well
Dec 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I really, really, urge anybody with an interest in actuality and global developments to read this book. Being a book that paves the way for a 'new world' economy and society, it carefully avoids the pitfalls of being ideological and dogmatic by carefully examination of current affairs and affluent use of existing literature and data. In this way, Tim Jackson examines the current economic system and consumerist society, it's trends and limits. Without becoming fully academic, the writer manages t ...more
Oct 25, 2014 is currently reading it
Reading this now. Exciting to find a book which addresses the single most important problem facing our civilization! Now, I want to recommend this to my (skeptical) friends, so I need to be prepared for their criticisms.

1. Foreword by Pavan Sukhdev. He throws a bunch of numbers around with no references. I'm a bit skeptical from the get-go (35% of Earth's surface is used for agriculture? Does he mean, Earth's surface excluding water, or what?), and then he drops the following number as the popu
Valerie Koh
Jul 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
Bad: Long sentences. Not a captivating writer. Took me 4months to finish this, though the book is quite short.

(Imagine doing the driest paper for a university module)

- clear policy recommendations
- incisive commentary on why we seek growth despite the inability to keep up w it ecologically

Would recommend to ppl interested in left-wing, socialist “fluffy” ideas but trying to figure out the language to convince “rational”, “solution-oriented”, “non-political”, “pragmatic” ppl of the proble
Jan 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing
If you've ever heard that the planet has more people on it than it can support, we are running out of global resources, or that the problems of poverty and climate change cannot both be solved at once, this is an excellent book to read. It quantitatively shows how we cannot rely on some factors some economists use to dismiss the issues, such as productivity and efficiency improvements, or carbon decoupling. ...more
Yong Feng
May 10, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An updated version of the original 2009 report commissioned by the UK government, this book argues that in order to avert the climate crisis, we must move to a system where growth is no longer the key driver of progress. The improvements in green technologies and energy efficiency will never be enough to attain absolute decoupling from our resource consumption, especially if the latter is not kept in check. Case in point: even the estimated 5.5% emissions reduction from the lockdowns due to the ...more
Keith Akers
Aug 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
I read the book Enough Is Enough: Building a Sustainable Economy in a World of Finite Resources before reading this and saw a generous reference to "Prosperity Without Growth," and decided to take a look. The two books have a lot in common with each other, and share the same basic viewpoint, but both talk about the subject in different ways. Tim Jackson, like Dietz and O'Neill, has gotten an impressive array of endorsements, such as Bill McKibben, Herman Daly (who wrote forewords for both books) ...more
Sep 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Impressive work.
Mar 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
In this book, Tim Jackson discusses the complete unsustainability of the current economic paradigm and the kind of changes that could put us back on track towards sustainability.

We live on a planet with finite resources. Known reserves of many fossil fuels, metals and minerals are running low - and our use of these resources is increasing quickly as the human population shoots up towards 9 billion and many of those people aspire to levels of affluence similar to those found in the Western world
Leland Beaumont
Dec 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
We are already at or near the ecological limits to growth of our magnificent planet. At the same time the economies of affluent nations, as presently conceived, require continuous growth to avoid collapse into recession and high unemployment. Tim Jackson’s book Prosperity without Growth, examines this paradox in detail and presents a path toward its resolution.

A first step is to examine our definitions of prosperity. A shift away from prosperity pursued as opulence — constantly acquiring new mat
Feb 08, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The disclaimer first: this was a free copy received through a Goodreads Giveaway. And very pleased I was too as I had the first edition on my radar too get around to at some point.

Not having read the original I can't say what has been updated, but there is a significant influence from, and commentary on, the recent financial crisis.

Overall I really liked this. I think many people would suspect that this would be some kind of anti-capitalist rant: let's all grow our own food, live in yurts, knit
Jun 07, 2015 rated it liked it
An interesting book dealing with one of the most important issues humans face: should we protect the only planet we (and countless other organisms) live on, or should we just live fast and die young (or at least before any of the unpleasant consequences of our resource-guzzling obsession with monetary wealth effects us)? It's a conundrum many of us fall foul of every day, in many different situations, preferring to take the easy, short-sighted but quickly gratifying route rather than the less ea ...more
Natasha Hurley-Walker
Nov 08, 2015 rated it it was ok
Unfortunately, I was quite disappointed by this book. I was really looking forward to the economic equivalent of Sustainable Energy: Without the Hot Air. But the book is full of nebulous exhortations and very short on actual detail. For instance,

...the three key macro-economic interventions needed to achieve ecological and economic stability in the new economy are quite specific:
- structural transition to service-based activities;
- investment in ecological assets ; and
- working time policy
Dec 24, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: or-economics
This book had some good information about how quickly finite natural resources are being rapidly diminished and how the reduction in supply of natural resources is indirectly proportional to the measure of economic growth. The author also does a good job of describing how certain policies meant to mitigate this problem do not stand up under scrutiny, and that real solutions will need to take several factors into consideration at once. However, beyond this, I found the author to be too dismissive ...more
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Tim Jackson is an ecological economist and writer. Since 2016 he has been Director of the Centre for the Understanding of Sustainable Prosperity (CUSP). CUSP is a multidisciplinary research centre which aims to understand the economic, social and political dimensions of sustainable prosperity. Its guiding vision for prosperity is one in which people everywhere have the capability to flourish as hu ...more

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Here’s some trivia for your next vacation get-together: The concept of the summer “beach read” book goes all the way back to the Victorian...
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“The overriding aim of this book is to seek viable responses to the biggest dilemma of our times: reconciling our aspirations for the good life with the constraints of a finite planet.” 3 likes
“Schwartz suggests that our values are structured around these two distinct tensions (Figure 7.2) in our psychological make-up: between selfishness (self-enhancement, in Schwartz’s scheme) and altruism (self-transcendence) on the one hand, and between novelty (or openness to change) and tradition (or conservation) on the other.39” 0 likes
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