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Economic Growth and Its Discontents

Moses Abramovitz, Tibor Scitovsky and Alex Inkeles
Bulletin of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences
Vol. 27, No. 1 (Oct., 1973), pp. 11-27
DOI: 10.2307/3822529
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3822529
Page Count: 17
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Abstract

In the quarter century following the end of World War II, economic growth became a social goal of prime importance throughout the world. During that period, real income per capita rose more rapidly than at any other time in history and the acceleration in growth was evident in virtually every aspect of the economy, from consumption and productivity to investment and employment. Yet, despite this phenomenal increase, there has been, in recent years, a rather profound change in the prevailing attitude toward economic growth: what was once regarded as a positive value by highly industrialized and developing countries alike has now become, at least in some circles of opinion, an anti-goal. What has caused this rather dramatic shift in both the public and professional view of economic growth? At a Stated Meeting sponsored by the Western Center of the American Academy last spring, three members of the Stanford University faculty - Moses Abramovitz, Tibor Scitovsky and Alex Inkeles - examined some of the factors underlying the current disenchantment with material progress. Messrs. Abramovitz and Scitovsky focused their remarks on the nature of economic growth in the United States and its effects on both the rich and the poor, while Mr. Inkeles dealt primarily with the concept of growth from the perspective of the underdeveloped world.

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