Larry Elliott (New UK coronavirus restrictions will test optimism over economic recovery, 2 August) suggests we will soon be able to see whether the absence of growth will make people happier and society more stable. I don’t believe it is part of the anti-growth thesis that a reduction in growth as such will make us happier.
First, the basis of the thesis is that growth is dysfunctional because in so many ways it is leading us to disaster. Reversing growth is required if we are to avoid disastrous outcomes, but will not in itself make us happier.
Second, therefore, to achieve greater happiness we need to see ways in which society’s product is distributed more equally. The pandemic has increased leisure but decreased people’s incomes and increased their indebtedness.
If slowing or reversing growth is associated with a closing of ranks among those who already take more than their share, the rest of us will be unhappy indeed. A new formula, which enables the economy and society to function without the stimulus of constantly increasing consumption and which shares out the result more equally, is a necessary part of low-growth solutions.