Transcription and presentation of an oral Session by Blake Aclott at the Second International Conference on Economic Degrowth for Ecological Sustainability and Social Equity in Barcelona on the topic “Managing Degrowth: Employment, Security and the Economy under a degrowth trajectory”
Abstract: Economic shrinkage (recession, degrowth) in richer countries is accompanied by increased unemployment. Distinct from the issue of poverty, unemployment is personally painful and socially undesirable. In trying to solve unemployment de‐growing societies could adopt a laissez‐faire stance, i.e. rely on falling wages and the removal of barriers to self‐employment (in both the formal and informal economies) to ensure jobs for all who want them. Or they could react with a direct full‐employment policy, namely the job guarantee (JG) with the state as employer of last resort (ELR). This would leave nothing to chance and establish a right to paid work. Combatting unemployment is traditionally attempted by economic growth, deficit spending, stop‐gap programs and a shorter work‐week, but these are not necessarily effective. A right to work is necessarily effective and would avoid sacrificing the ecological and social goals of degrowth on the altar of full employment. While economic recession is virtually synonymous with job loss in politics, press and academia, a JG policy moves full employment from the economic to the political realm. The distinct but not necessarily rival income guarantee has been well‐studied, but both experience in and literature on the job guarantee is thin. The goal of this paper is therefore to sketch a conceptual map of job provision in a shrinking or shrunken economy.