The Wellbeing Economy: Pathway to Consumption Sufficiency and a Post-Growth Economy?

Start/Stop Date:
05–08 Jul 2023
Anders Hayden
Wageningen, The Netherlands
Focus Areas:
Type of Event:

Dear colleagues,

The Sustainable Consumption Research and Action Initiative (SCORAI) will be holding its next conference in Wageningen, Netherlands from July 5-8, 2023. I am hoping to put together a session (possibly more than one) on the theme of “The Wellbeing Economy: Pathway to Consumption Sufficiency and a Post-Growth Economy?”

I am writing to invite you to submit an abstract to participate in this session. Feel free to send this invitation to colleagues who are working on issues related to the wellbeing economy. A draft of the session proposal follows below this message.

There are two types of sessions at the conference: academic sessions for the presentation of original research and dialogue-debate sessions, which discuss a particular thematic focus and integrate research and practice. If there is sufficient interest, we can propose sessions of both kinds.

One challenge is that the deadline for proposal submissions is fast approaching: November 28. To allow me to have time to integrate the individual abstracts into a session proposal(s), I would need to receive the following information from you by November 24: a presentation proposal of 300-500 words, a title, and the names and institutional affiliations of all presenters / co-authors.

In addition to sharing an abstract of your presentation with me, participants will need to submit an abstract to the SCORAI conference website (

Participation in the conference will be possible both in-person and online. More details on the conference, including the full call for proposals, is available here:
Best regards,

Anders Hayden Associate Professor
Department of Political Science
Dalhousie University
6299 South St, Rm 358
PO Box 15000
Halifax, NS, Canada, B3H 4R2
Tel: +1(902) 494-6602 E-mail:
The following is an initial sketch of the session proposal on “The Wellbeing Economy: Pathway to Consumption Sufficiency and a Post-Growth Economy?”

The idea of a wellbeing economy shifts the central goal from economic growth to the generation of human wellbeing in ecologically sustainable ways. The concept, which has links to the beyond-GDP measurement debate and a post-growth / post-consumerist economic vision, has had a political impact through the emergence of the Wellbeing Economy Governments (WEGo) and support for the idea within institutions including the OECD and European Union. Such advances have led some wellbeing economy proponents to highlight the concept’s capacity to bring post-growth ideas into the political mainstream, while other observers highlight the continued dependence of wellbeing economies on GDP growth to meet wellbeing goals and other pressures to water down the concept as it moves out of the hands of those with post-growth aspirations.

Among the questions the session(s) may examine:

How can the wellbeing economy concept contribute to transforming systems of consumption and production and support just, equitable, and sustainable development? In particular, how can it help advance ideas of sufficiency, strong sustainable consumption, and post-growth

What lessons does the experience of Wellbeing Economy Governments (WEGo) provide about ability and limits of the wellbeing economy concept to take sufficiency-oriented, post-growth ideas into the political mainstream? Similarly, what lessons can be learned from the engagement with the wellbeing economy concept by EU institutions and international organizations such as the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development?

To what extent, and in what ways, does a wellbeing economy’s shift away from GDP as the primary indicator of prosperity toward a multidimensional understanding of wellbeing help advance a transformative approach to issues of consumption and sustainability?

Are there promising examples of ways in which the concept has drawn attention to less-consumption-oriented ways of generating wellbeing and opened space for sufficiency-oriented initiatives and policies (e.g. work-time reduction, restrictions on advertising, urban planning that enables people to live well without automobile ownership and use, etc.)?

In light of signs that the post-growth and sufficiency-oriented elements of the wellbeing economy are being downplayed as the concept is mainstreamed, how can the wellbeing economy concept maintain its capacity to challenge a growth-oriented, consumerist economic vision?

How can the wellbeing economy be linked to efforts to better understand the growth dependency of contemporary economies and overcome that dependency?

How can a wellbeing economy manage the tension between a post-growth vision and the need for greater government revenues to finance wellbeing-enhancing social policies?