Economic Growth: New Doubts About an Old Ideal

III fares the land, to hastening ills a prey, Where wealth accumulates and men decay.

—Oliver Goldsmith (1770) I INTIL recently only dyspeptic phi-V-' losophers, conservationists and a handful of academics dared to question the proposition that economic expansion necessarily fosters human progress. Each jump of the national output of goods and services has been treated as a triumph, each fall as a setback. Like other affluent Western countries, the U.S. has avidly pursued prosperity, convinced that a rising standard of living would ameliorate if not dispel most economic and social ills.


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