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The slowdown of the economy

  • by JW

Will our conceptions of value and cost be redefined?


We are already seeing dramatic changes to the way the economy works, as covered in these news pages:

A permanent shift towards home working…


Radio 3 last night looked at the longer-term trends in the economy – and that a ‘slowdown’ has in fact been happening for some time now:


Does Growth Matter?

The rate of social and technological change in the 20th century was unarguably frenetic. A key measure used by politicians, economists and journalists in that time has been GDP growth. But is Growth as a pointer still fit for purpose? And should all countries still aspire to achieve growth? Is the world on a longer-term slowdown? Would that be a bad thing? And as the shock of coronavirus echoes through communities and economies around the world, will our conceptions of value and cost be redefined?

Anne McElvoy discusses economic futures, with Danny Dorling, demographer, writer, professor of Geography at Oxford University, and author of forthcoming “Slowdown: The end of the Great Acceleration – and Why It’s Good for the Planet, the Economy, and Our Lives”, which is published in April. and also

Petr Barton writes and teaches economics in Prague, and is Chief Economist at Natland Investment Group. The webtool discussed in this programme can be found at

Richard Davies has been senior advisor to the UK Treasury, and the Bank of England and has been Economics Editor at The Economist. He teaches at the LSE and his recent book, “Extreme Economies”, is published by Penguin.

Does Growth Matter? |


Here’s more on Prof Dorling’s new book:


A powerful and counterintuitive argument that we should welcome the current slowdown—of population growth, economies, and technological innovation

Drawing from an incredibly rich trove of global data, this groundbreaking book reveals that human progress has been slowing down since the early 1970s. Danny Dorling uses compelling visualizations to illustrate how fertility rates, growth in GDP per person, increases in life expectancy, and even the frequency of new social movements have all steadily declined over the last few generations.

Perhaps most surprising of all is the fact that even as new technologies frequently reshape our everyday lives and are widely believed to be propelling our civilization into new and uncharted waters, the rate of technological progress is also rapidly dropping. Rather than lament this turn of events, Dorling embraces it as a moment of promise and a move toward stability, and he notes that many of the older great strides in progress that have defined recent history also brought with them widespread warfare, divided societies, and massive inequality.

Slowdown |


We will have to alter our opinions about ‘technological progress’ too:

Futures Forum: “Where are the flying cars?” or, “What happened to derail so many credible ideas and prospects?”

Futures Forum: Techno-promises unfulfilled >>> Where did the future go?