Growth imperative

Growth imperative is a term in economic theory regarding a possible necessity of economic growth. On the micro level, it describes mechanisms that force firms or consumers (households) to increase revenues or consumption to not endanger their income. On the macro level, a political growth imperative exists if economic growth is necessary to avoid economic and social instability or to retain democratic legitimacy, so that other political goals such as climate change mitigation or a reduction of inequality are subordinated to growth policies.[1][2]

The role of growth imperatives for the increase in the global gross domestic product per capita is disputed.

Current neoclassical, Keynesian and endogenous growth theories do not consider a growth imperative[3] or explicitly deny it, such as Robert Solow.[4] In neoclassical economics, adherence to economic growth would be a question of maximizing utility, an intertemporal decision between current and future consumption (see Keynes–Ramsey rule).[5] Other sociological and political theories consider several possible causes for pursuing economic growth, for example maximizing profit, social comparison, culture (conformity), or political ideologies, but they do not regard them to be compulsive. Possible growth imperatives are discussed in Marxist theory, Schumpeterian theory of creative destruction and ecological economics, as well as in political debates on post-growth and degrowth. It is disputed whether growth imperative is a meaningful concept altogether, who would be affected by it, and which mechanism would be responsible.[1]


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