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Our society faces a fundamental dilemma. While continued economic growth is ecologically unsustainable, reductions in consumer demand are often accompanied by adverse social impacts. Hence there is a need for macroeconomic tools that can help with the identification of socially sustainable degrowth pathways. The emerging field of ecological macroeconomics aims to address this need and features a number of new macroeconomic modelling approaches. This article provides (1) a review of current modelling developments in ecological macroeconomics, based on the literature and interviews with researchers, and (2) an analysis of the ability of different models to represent post-growth scenarios by comparing them against a set of themes derived from post-growth policies. Overall, 22 ecological macroeconomic models were analysed and compared to eight policy themes identified from the post-growth literature. It was found that environmental interactions and the monetary system were treated most comprehensively. Themes of income inequality, work patterns, indicators of well-being, and disaggregated production were addressed in a less-detailed fashion, while alternative business models and cross-scale interactions were hardly addressed at all. Overall, the combination of input-output analysis with stock-flow consistent modelling was identified as a promising avenue for developing macroeconomic models for a post-growth economy. However, due to the wide interpretation of what “the economy” entails, particularly in the degrowth literature, future research will benefit from employing a range of modelling approaches.

This media entry was a contribution to the special session „Ecological macroeconomic models: Assessing current developments“ at the 5th International Degrowth Conference in Budapest in 2016.