Why Economists Don’t Know How to Think About Growth

Eric Michael Johnson interviews Fritjof Capra in Evonomics:

ScreenHunter_1678 Feb. 10 18.38The role of systems thinking in economics has grown in prominence throughout the late 20th Century—much of it due to the pioneering work of Fritjof Capra, whose writings and movies have inspired a generation of young scholars and practitioners to view economics and politics through the lens of ecological (living) systems.

We are delighted to share this exclusive interview, conducted by science journalist and Evonomics advisor Eric Michael Johnson (EJ), with Dr. Capra (FC) about the implications this approach has for the new paradigm of complexity and evolutionary economics. He is offering a new course on this topic that begins in April 2016, which we highly recommend.

EJ: In your latest book, The Systems View of Life, you emphasize the need to shift from the concept of “quantitative growth,” as economists use it, to that of “qualitative growth” that you say is more akin to evaluating the health of ecological systems. How do ecologists measure this qualitative growth and how would it be translated to economics?

FC: Growth in nature always balanced and multi-faceted. While certain parts of organisms, or ecosystems, grow, others decline, releasing and recycling their components which become resources for new growth. I have called this kind of growth, well known to biologists and ecologists, “qualitative growth” to contrast it with the concept of quantitative growth, measured in terms of the undifferentiated index of the GDP, used by today’s economists.

More here.