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Abstract: This paper will examine the hypothesis that – roughly speaking from the mid-1970s- the advanced capitalist societies entered a phase of declininig marginal returns (DMR) (Tainter, 1988). In this perspective indicators concerning agriculture (Fulginiti and Perrin, 1997), energy (Hall, Powers, and Schoenberg, 2008) and mineral extraction (Bardi and Pagani (2007), research and health systems (Tainter, 2006) are analized. We also see how the principle of declining marginal returns emerges from the very heart of the capitalist system itself, that is to say in the process of innovation (Strumsky, Lobo and Tainter, 2010). Our conclusion is that – looking at the evidence we now have at our disposal – – the process of DMR could be at the basis of the reduction of both growth rates (The Great Stagnation Cowen, 2010), and social welbeing (Daly and Cobb 1989; Daly 1996, Lawn, 2005) that the advanced capitalist societies show, opening the possibility of a Great Transition (Bonaiuti, 2014) toward new institutional orders.