What Are Some of the Advantages and Disadvantages of Economic Growth?

Among the key advantages of economic growth are improved standards of living, increased employment and investment in cleaner technologies, while some of the major disadvantages are the risk of inflation, pollution and deforestation, traffic congestion and excessive household waste. There are also concerns about the sustainability of economic growth, particularly given the finite nature of the Earth’s resources, including rainforests and fish stocks.

Other environmental problems that have been observed as a result of economic growth include overpopulation in cities and the extinction of many species, which results in a reduction of biodiversity.

Nevertheless, it has been suggested that while economic growth may have a number of associated problems, the absence of economic growth is far more toxic to a society than its presence. Certainly technologically-driven growth has led to increases in profits and, therefore, often wages as well, not to mention better healthcare and rises in life expectancy.

Such advantages are not necessarily felt by all members of society equally, however. The Gini coefficient, which measures income and wealth inequalities by nation, has found that many countries undergoing periods of rapid growth, including the United States, have extreme imbalances of income between the richest and the poorest citizens. Other developed countries, however, such as Japan and Denmark, have been found to have far more income equality.