Random House Business, 2018
Reviewed by Jane Stott
‘Kate Raworth tells us that she was inspired to write this book by the campaigns of students of economics worldwide to be taught something different from the current offerings which were still based on classical economics. Classical economics is based on some assumptions that we all now know to be untrue, but has been dominant for years although its failings become more obvious year by year. In politics, it is still largely believed that growth is the answer to all our problems, in spite of all the evidence from the last forty years, and the current awareness of climate change.
The book was written as an alternative model to classical economics, and embodies different values.
The doughnut of the title is a ring doughnut, and is represented by two concentric circles, and the suggestion is that all economic activity needs to take place between the inner and outer ring of the doughnut.
The inner ring is the basic requirements for individual humans, so is based on a desire for a level of equality of access to the basic necessities of life. Thus a well running economy would have as a key goal the basics of life for everyone.
The outer ring represents the planetary limits, where going beyond them puts unsustainable stress on natural systems. The author describes the areas where we are already operating beyond global limits and need to pull back.
The book does not require an understanding of economics, as the language is kept jargon-free. It is a hopeful book, and I think does offer a simple model which can be used to explain the issues to people who can clearly see that there is something seriously wrong with the present system, yet lack a language in which to describe the alternatives to others who are as yet only dimly aware of the problems.
Some people find the idea of a non growth world depressing, but we can have growth in consciousness, growth in understanding, developments in arts and music, so less material growth could come to be seen as a step towards a more fulfilling life for all, and a more relaxed and enjoyable way of living. The author provides lots of ideas for governments to help prepare for a circular economy, and while not suggesting that the way would be easy, she at least provides descriptions of actions that could make it possible.
Overall, I found this an inspiring and hopeful book.