Library image, photo by Alireza Attari on Unsplash

What structural change is needed for a post-growth economy: A framework of analysis and empirical evidence

10 January, 2021

What structural change is needed for a post-growth economy: A framework of analysis and empirical evidence

John Barrett

Peter Taylor

Tim Foxon

Research paper   Digital Society

Lukas Hardt, John Barrett, Peter Taylor and Timothy Foxon

In order to avoid environmental catastrophe we need to move to a post-growth economy that can deliver rapid reductions in environmental impacts and improve well-being, independent of GDP growth. Such a move will entail considerable structural change in the economy, implying different goals and strategies for different economic sectors. So far there are no systematic approaches for identifying the desired shape of structural change and sectoral goals in terms of output, demand and employment. We present a novel analysis that addresses this gap by classifying economic sectors into groups with similar structural change goals. Our framework for the classification considers sectoral characteristics along three dimensions, which are (a) the final energy intensity, (b) the potential and desirability for labour productivity growth and (c) the relationship between labour productivity and the energy-labour ratio. We present empirical evidence on the three framework dimensions for economic sectors in the UK and Germany and derive structural change goals for the four sector groups representing particular combinations of the sector characteristics. Our analysis allows us to discuss the specific role of different economic sectors in the structural change envisioned in the post-growth transition and the most important challenges they might be facing.

Publication details

Hardt, L., Barrett, J., Taylor, P. and Foxon, T.J. 2021. What structural change is needed for a post-growth economy: A framework of analysis and empirical evidence. Ecological Economics, 179: 106845. Opens in a new tab10.1016/j.ecolecon.2020.106845 Open access

Banner photo credit: Alireza Attari on Unsplash

Scroll Up