Degrowth:Buddhist Economics

Buddhist economics, a term coined by Fritz Schumacher, is the systematic study of how to gain given ends with minimum means, or as we at The Incredible Shrinking Man like to ask; How can we shrink towards abundance? In the view of its proponents, buddhist economics aims to clear the confusion about what is harmful and what is beneficial in the range of human activities involving the production and consumption of goods and services, ultimately trying to make human beings ethically mature. It represents a commitment to building an economy that would serve a nation’s culture based on spiritual values instead of being gauged by only GDP. To the buddhist economist there is nothing elegant about complex ways to deal with demand. If it’s not simple it’s probably not worth considering.

In the buddhist economic model of Claire Brown valuation of economic performance is based on how well the economy delivers a high quality of life to everyone while it protects the environment. In addition to consumption, measuring economic performance includes equity, sustainability, and activities that create a meaningful life. A person’s well-being depends on cultivation of spiritual wealth even more than material wealth. Free market economics assumes that the markets produce optimal outcomes and that people have the resources to create satisfying lives. It focusses mainly on income and consumption to see if its presumptions are on track. Buddhist economics asks how we want our economy to work for us and how to maximise social welfare. It’s not about external growth, it’s not about material expansion, but about inner satisfaction and attention to practical basic human needs. Do you live a meaningful life with your relationships, in your community? Do you have health care, education? How well are you able to develop your potential? Buddhist economics is what economics should be about.

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