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Abstract: The paper addresses a core assumption of economic policy, namely, the assumption growth by steady high rates being typical to economies. In the seventies such exponential growth has been criticized in the bestseller “The Limits to Growth” to be a hazard to the environment and to mankind as a whole. However, as the paper demonstrates, almost all western economies show mere linear growth. Hence, the continuous decrease of growth rates must not be considered an aberration from economic normality, which needs to be explained, but to be typical for modern economies. Since growth rates nevertheless are the most prominent indicator for the success of economic policy, politicians still are constantly urged to take “countermeasures”. A multitude of fundamental changes in economic and social policies may therefore to be revaluated: In contrary to the usual critique of being ineffective or unsocial the issue addressed here is that by such reformations politics tragically tries to improve the conditions for growth in order to “restore” a normality, which, empirically, has never existed.

This media entry was a contribution to the special session “Degrowth versus growth. Do we really have the choice?” at the 4th International Degrowth Conference in Leipzig in 2014.