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Degrowth through income and wealth caps?
- Buch-Hansen, Hubert, Koch, Max
- Ecological economics 2019 v.160 pp. 264-271
- human capital, income, issues and policy, risk factors, social inequality, sustainable communities
- In the degrowth literature, maximum caps on wealth and/or income are frequently mentioned among the policy instruments that could support transitions towards ecologically and socially sustainable societies. Yet an in-depth discussion of concrete policy proposals has yet to be initiated. To facilitate such a discussion, the present paper reviews several proposals for placing caps on wealth and/or income. Some of these proposals consider environmental limits, others focus exclusively on social inequality. The paper moreover raises various critical issues concerning the introduction of maximum caps on wealth and income in a degrowth context, discussing the role of the state, the impact on economic growth and the risk of emigration of high-skilled employees and capital flight. We conclude that while, in an ecologically constrained world, there is an argument for imposing limits on wealth and income above a certain level, it is crucial not to dictate such policies as mere top-down measures but to develop and deliberate them in democratic forums.