Contributors: O'Neill, Daniel, Dr. (University of Leeds)
Dan O’Neill is a lecturer in ecological economics at the University of Leeds, and the chief economist at the Center for the Advancement of the Steady State Economy (CASSE).
Scientific paper contribution 1: Degrowth and Unemployment: The Implications of Okun's Law
Abstract: One of the biggest fears that most people have when they hear "no growth" is "no jobs". This abstract describes the results of a detailed theoretical and empirical analysis into the relationship between degrowth and unemployment. The theoretical analysis suggests that a stabilisation or reduction of economic output could lead to rising unemployment, in part due to the role of technological progress in increasing labour productivity. The analysis also suggests, however, that unemployment may be combated by reducing working hours, increasing resource efficiency, and by an ageing population. The empirical analysis, which includes an economic and biophysical assessment of Okun's law for OECD countries, suggests that there is a relationship between growth and job creation, but that this relationship varies remarkably between countries. All in all, these results suggest that it may be possible for countries to decouple the goal of stable employment from the rate of economic growth. Keywords: Unemployment, Okun's law, degrowth, steady-state economy, labour productivity.
Scientific paper contribution 2: Is Profit-Making Compatible with the Principles of a Steady-State Economy?
This paper is co-authored by Daniel O'Neill
Abstract: We question to what extent the pursuit of profit, as a fundamental element and the final goal of economic activity in capitalist societies, is compatible with the principles of a steady-state economy. Drawing on the degrowth literature, we discuss both the possibility and desirability of “steady-state capitalism” and suggest that the profit motive creates two broad types of problems for a steady-state economy: (1) rising inequality due to the accumulation of wealth, and (2) the prioritisation of financial returns over socio-environmental needs. We suggest that the first group of problems may largely be tackled through redistribution polices (such as progressive taxes) and economic democratisation (cooperatives). The second poses greater challenges, but social enterprises offer a potential structure to allow firms to prioritise socio-environmental goals over financial profits. While modern shareholder-owned corporations have been described as (negative) “externalising machines”, social enterprises could represent “positive-externalising machines” and a path to redefine the pursuit of profit in a steady-state economy.