Columbia International Affairs Online: Working Papers

CIAO DATE: 05/2014

Prices and Work in The New Economy

Neva Goodwin

April 2014

Global Development and Environment Institute at Tufts University


The impetus for this paper is the urgent need to figure out how a non-growing – even a shrinking – economy may be able to provide human well-being while beginning to restore the health of the natural world. Twentieth century economic theory is not well able to conceptualize this problem, especially since it sees growth as necessary for jobs, jobs necessary for income,and income necessary for well-being. To unwind this chain will require some radical changes in economic theory. The theory must focus on the final goal of human well-being, in the present and the future, prior to the intermediate goals of growth, financial wealth,or the maximization of consumption. Equally critical, and difficult, is to find ways for economic theory to take account of human values, and identify the places where they are more salient than market values, or prices.