Prospects for economic growth in the 21st century: A survey covering mainstream, heterodox and scientifically oriented perspectives

Despite the importance of economic growth for the current economy, business and societal planning there are few long-term growth projections undertaken. There is, however, a vivid debate on what is called the 'new normal' - secular stagnation - which is undertaken within academic disciplines. This overview covers mainstream, heterodox and scientifically oriented economic perspectives on the prospects for economic growth in the 21st century. The survey shows that existing long-term projections and scenarios indicate growth rates ranging from around half a percentage point less than during the last two decades (projected by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, OECD), to dramatically lower growth rates). Differences stem from different perspectives on the determinants of economic growth and the potential for improvements in productivity.

Headwinds are: an aging population, especially in OECD countries; resource constraints, including energy; increasing environmental costs in particular due to the consequences of climate change; overaccumulation; increasing income differences; and declining social capital. One conclusion is that policymaking based on the assumption that economic growth will continue at pre-crisis levels is unwise and risky.

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Last updated: 2021-06-24

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IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute has a wide environmental profile. We combine applied research and development with close collaboration between industry and the public sphere. Our consultancy is evidence-based, and our research is characterized by interdisciplinary science and system thinking.


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