In The Growth Delusion, author and prize-winning journalist David Pilling explores how economists and their cult of growth have hijacked our policy-making and infiltrated our thinking about what makes societies work. Our policies are geared relentlessly towards increasing our standard measure of growth, Gross Domestic Product. By this yardstick we have never been wealthier or happier. So why doesn’t it feel that way? Why are we living in such fractured times, with global populism on the rise and wealth inequality as stark as ever?
In a book that is simultaneously trenchant, thought-provoking and entertaining, Pilling argues that we need to measure our successes and failures using different criteria. While for economic growth, heroin consumption and prostitution are worth more than volunteer work or public services, in a rational world we would learn how to value what makes economies better, not just what makes them bigger. So much of what is important to our wellbeing, from clean air to safe streets and from steady jobs to sound minds, lies outside the purview of our standard measure of success. We prioritise growth maximisation without stopping to think about the costs.
In prose that cuts through the complex language so often wielded by a priesthood of economists, Pilling argues that our steadfast loyalty to growth is informing misguided policies – and contributing to a rising mistrust of experts that is shaking the very foundations of our democracy.
The aim of the year-long Fellowship was to enable the winner to produce a piece of work to communicate alternative economic ideas in an easily accessible and engaging way, to kick-start a popular debate among the public and influence policy makers. The Fellowship was awarded by a panel of Friends Provident Foundation Trustees with support from an economist and a journalist. The Foundation will provide financial and editorial support to the winner during 2016 and help to disseminate the final work to a wide audience.
The next journalist fellowship will be launched in April 2018, to run from January 2019.