Europa & die Welt Veranstaltung

What if growth lets us down? Challenges and opportunities of low growth in industrialized countries

Panel discussion at the Hertie School of Governance
Foto: Robert Schmidt

On March 3, Anke Hassel and Henrik Enderlein – both professors at the Hertie School of Governance and members of our Circle of Friends – together with Hermann E. Ott – Senior Advisor at the Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy, and former Green member of the German Bundestag – discussed the possible consequences of low or even no growth to the national economies of the industrialized world. László Andor, Mercator Senior Fellow at the Hertie School and former EU Commissioner, provided the keynote for the panel debate.


In his keynote, László Andor shed light on the European Union’s policy responses to the recent period of economic stagnation. He also made reference to the discussion about measuring growth. Andor emphasized that GDP was a relatively recent measurement which proves to be outdated as it does not capture the externalities of economic activity.

Anke Hassel in the subsequent panel discussion stressed the importance of distributional effects of economic growth. She was confident that industrialized countries’ economies could adapt to low growth. Hermann E. Ott added, “growth is not the silver bullet to all problems like unemployment or poverty”, and pointed to the absolute restrictions to growth on a global scale. Henrik Enderlein stressed the need for a measure of growth that takes into account negative externalities. Once we had established such, it would still be desirable to strive for positive growth rates, he argued. Putting it bluntly he said: “No growth is not the solution.” Anke Hassel and Hermann E. Ott agreed that the upcoming debate on the good life would be key to talk about a different kind of growth.

The panel discussion “What if Growth lets us down? Challenges and Opportunities of low Growth in industrialized Countries” took place at the Hertie School and was organized by the students’ organization ‘Green Office’ under the umbrella of the student organized Sustainability Days 2015.