imgEconGrowthIcon Economic Growth

Assume higher or lower growth in goods produced and services provided. Economic Growth is measured in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per person and is a key driver in energy consumption. Alternatives exist to meeting people’s needs through economic frameworks not based on constant GDP growth.


  • Global efforts to reduce overconsumption and embrace voluntary simplicity.
  • Possible impacts on economic growth from the effects of climate change.

Big Message

  • Slower economic growth would be a high leverage approach for avoiding future temperature increases, however, there are lots of questions about how this might occur and be done in a way that is equitable.

Key Dynamics

  • Population gets multiplied with GDP per capita to equal total global GDP, or Gross World Product. Increases in this variable accelerate the exponential growth of GDP, arguably the most important driver of future carbon dioxide emissions.
  • Watch all the sources of energy change as you change economic growth.

Potential Co-Benefits of Lower Growth

  • Focus may be shifted to alternative measures of prosperity that enhance people’s wellbeing, such as gross national happiness.
  • Greater focus on resource conservation and less on material consumption can lead to less waste.

Equity Considerations

  • Economic growth is tied to pulling people out of poverty worldwide. Although, in recent decades, many gains in economic growth have gone to the world’s wealthiest. Regardless, policies must be tailored to specific local and regional circumstances.
  • When GDP growth slows or contracts, governments can incur higher budget deficits, often implementing austerity measures—cutting spending and raising taxes—to offset the difference. These reforms can severely impact the poor and working class causing job losses and all the inequities that come with loss of livelihood. [1]

Slider Settings

low growth status quo high growth
GDP growth per year 1.7% to 2.1% 2.2% to 2.9% 3.0% to 3.7%

Model Structure

Whereas, in the real world, there would be feedbacks to economic growth from energy prices, various taxes, and the impacts of climate change, the model does not include these effects. The user could explore such feedbacks by changing this input manually.

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[1]Ruckert, A., & Labonté, R. (2017). Health inequities in the age of austerity: The need for social protection policies. Social Science & Medicine, 187, 306–311.