“Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell.”
During most of the history of mankind, average incomes across the globe amounted to somewhere between $1 and $2 per day and income growth was only marginally above zero, averaging about 0.033 percent per year from year 0 to year 1868 (and probably even less during the preceding millennia). In the hundred year period from 1868 to 1968, however, real per capita income growth suddenly increased forty-fold to about 1.43 percent per year, and when I was born average per capita income in the world had reached about $10 a day. During my life-time, income growth has averaged 1.96 percent, implying that average per capita GDP in the world is now above $20/day. Growth rates have kept increasing steadily, reaching an average of about 2.94 percent per year in the first decade of this century. Such growth rates are unprecedented in the history of our species (1).
The big question is: Will growth continue at these high, and perhaps even accelerating, rates? Or is the growth spurt experienced over the last 150 years just an anomaly, which is about to come to an end?