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Scientific paper

15 years of degrowth research: A systematic review

Joe Ament, John-Oliver Engler, Max-Friedemann Kretschmer, Julius Rathgens, Thomas Huth, Henrik von Wehrden

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Scientific paper

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Ecological Economics


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In academia and political debates, the notions of ‘degrowth’ has gained traction since the dawn of the 21st century. While some uncertainty around its exact definition remains, research on degrowth revolves around the idea of reducing resource and energy throughput as a unifying theme. We employ a mixed-methods design to systematically review the scientific peer-reviewed English literature from 2008 to 2022 that refers to ‘degrowth’ or ‘post-growth’ in title, keywords or abstract (N = 951). We find a lack of concrete distributional and monetary policy proposals in the sample analyzed, and a low overall degree of collaboration among authors in relation to degrowth's age and size. The scientific peer-reviewed literature analyzed can be grouped into seven clusters along two major gradients, one along methodology (qualitative-quantitative) and the other along scale-of-analysis (individual-societal). We conclude that the academic literature about degrowth would benefit from a more prominent discussion of the political implications of its ideas and proposals, and that in particular the debate about distributional policy implications of degrowth should be more prominent and concrete, with a stronger focus on distributional policies in a degrowing economy.

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