Year of publication:
Degrowth Conference Leipzig 2014
hyper-consumerism; working time; negative externalities; happiness; growth rebalancing
Abstract: We shed light on some aspects of the US consumers’ apparent bulimia that was at the origin of the recent global crisis. We show how different characteristics of the American society and economy are consistently related to such a multifaceted phenomenon. Hence, we illustrate some structural features of the U.S. economy and public policies that may contribute to create a difference, in terms of patterns of consumption and participation in market activities, between the US and some other advanced economies (in western Europe). We then proceed by presenting some explanations of the US hyper-consumerism. We relate this phenomenon to the decline in subjective well-being and social capital documented in the US over the period preceding the crisis. Moreover, we discuss how the NEG (Negative Endogenous Growth) paradigm can account for the recent US consumption boom by treating it as part of the typical reinforcing loop that characterizes the US pattern of economic growth. Finally, we focus on how the US can exit from the current crisis.