Potentials for prosperity without growth: Ecological sustainability, social inclusion and the quality of life in 38 countries

Martin Fritz, Max Koch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Recent contributions to ecological economics and related social sciences indicate that issues such as climate change, resource depletion and environmental degradation cannot be effectively addressed under conditions of continued economic growth. This paper aims at empirically identifying structural potentials and policy challenges for prosperity at scaleswhere economic development remainswithin ecological carrying capacities. Building
on the growing literature that interprets prosperity ‘beyond’ economic growth, the paper presents a threedimensional
concept to operationalise prosperity in terms of ecological sustainability, social inclusion, and the quality of life. These dimensions are measured using data from sources such as TheWorld Bank, the Global Footprint Network and the OECD. The results of cluster and correspondence analyses indicate the existence of five
‘prosperity regimes’ and demonstrate that all aspects of prosperity – including (unsatisfactory) ecological performance – are linked to economic development. However, our findings also indicate that in order to achieve a decent minimum of prosperity moderate levels of the material living standard are sufficient. Further increases in the
material living standard do not lead to significant additional prosperity; instead they cause greater environmental harms. The paper concludes by highlighting potentials for prosperity for each of the ‘prosperity regimes’ and corresponding policy challenges.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)191-199
JournalEcological Economics
Publication statusPublished - 2014

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Social Work


  • wellbeing
  • social inclusion
  • ecological sustainability
  • prosperity
  • steady-state economy
  • GDP


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