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How should we discuss welfare when understanding the role of growth and the viability of Growth-led development? One option is to look at subjective happiness. This provides an anti-materialistic view which may superficially appear more compatible with significant reductions in consumption in order to remain within safe ecological limits. However, in cross-sectional data happiness is still linked with GDP. Further happiness is not a holistic measure of welfare at may even obscure a lack of basic needs. Eudaimonic welfare refers to a more holistic view of welfare. One way of understanding eudaimonic welfare is to take a basic needs approach. Needs are universal non-substitutable, satiable and provide a framework for rights and entitlements. Neither a needs-based approach nor a happiness-based approach is compatible with global growth-led development, due to low rates of decoupling of GDP from both fossil fuel usage and more general, indicators of ecological damage. However, meeting needs in a degrowth scenario also remains a major challenge and will require a much more egalitarian society focused on providing for everyone's needs rather than luxury consumption.
Economists have defended policy recommendations as "welfare" or "utility" maximizing for decades. This video reminds us of the difficulty in defining and measuring human well-being, particularly so within a degrowth framework. While the ultimate measure for welfare is yet to be developed, content like this adds to the much-needed discussion on how to prioritise human needs from compulsive economic growth.