Doughnut Economics

Written by Kate Raworth in 2011, Doughnut Economics provides insight on development economics and Raworth’s take on solving the various developmental issues across the globe.

Doughnut Economics is a book revolving around development economics and is one of the most influential pieces of writing in the field. Raworth herself is an Oxford academic, which is a guarantee in itself of high-quality research, and many of her ideas from her book have been used in a wide variety of policy decisions on a national and global scale. For example, a diagram of the Doughnut, the main idea conveyed by the book, was on the table as a reminder of the big-picture goals aimed for by the UN when deciding the Sustainable Development Goals in 2015. This is just one example of where her work has influenced nations, and it looks to revolutionise the entire subject of economics as a whole to make it more suitable for the 21st Century.

‘The Doughnut: a twenty-first-century compass. Between its social foundation of human well-being and ecological ceiling of planetary pressure lies the safe and just space for humanity’

As a whole, the book identifies the shortcomings and failures of economics, down to problems in the way it is taught and suggests radical reforms in the different systems, goals and ideologies that economists work with. Raworth has created an image of the ‘Doughnut’ with a ring of social and ecological ‘equilibrium, with social issues within the ring and environmental crises outside the outer ring. The primary aim of a government, and the global economy overall, is to ensure that all the social issues within the ring are resolved and stay out of the inside while preventing environmental damage that could force economies outside the ring. If this balance can be maintained, economies can thrive inside the safe and just space of the ring and possibly grow sustainably. However, Raworth clarifies that growth should not be the primary goal and that economies should focus on thriving and ensuring equity among citizens. Any growth that occurs would be a positive side-effect of this and would be sustainable, which prevents the widening social and economic inequalities we are seeing that are justified in the name of economic growth. There is a heavy emphasis on changing the goal from economic growth to economic sustainability, from focusing on economic indicators like GDP to looking at social indicators like quality of life and the idea of GNH formed in Bhutan.

Overall, I found Doughnut Economics to be an engaging and insightful book, which drew on various ideas outside of development economics as well. One such example was the use of behavioural economics in the ‘Nurture Human Nature’ chapter, where its applications to improving macroeconomic policies and economies are detailed. The author dives into how current economic policies are intended for perfectly rational beings and suggests the importance of behavioural economics in ratifying this misconception to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of financial decisions and improve standards of living and general quality of life. The book aimed to transform the field of economics to adapt it to a more modern system that can successfully solve the dynamic and diverse problems of today’s global society, and it does so in both an understandable and analytical process.

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