Malthus, Marx und modernes Wachstum

CAMBRIDGE – Das Versprechen, wonach es jeder Generation besser gehen würde als der vorhergehenden ist ein Grundprinzip der modernen Gesellschaft. Im Großen und Ganzen hat sich dieses Versprechen in den meisten entwickelten Ökonomien erfüllt. Trotz Rückschlägen durch Kriege und Finanzkrisen ist der Lebensstandard über die letzten Generationen angestiegen.

Auch in den Entwicklungsländern sind für die große Mehrheit der Bevölkerungen Zeiten einer nachhaltigen Verbesserung ihres Lebensstandards angebrochen und die Menschen entwickeln nun rasch ähnliche Wachstumserwartungen. Doch werden zukünftige Generationen, vor allem in den Industrieländern, diesen Erwartungen gerecht werden? Obwohl dies der Fall sein dürfte, scheinen die Abwärtsrisiken höher zu sein als vor ein paar Jahrzehnten.

Bislang haben sich alle neuzeitlichen Prognosen von Thomas Malthus bis Karl Marx, wonach sich das Los der Menschheit verschlechtern würde, als spektakulär falsch erwiesen. Mit technologischem Fortschritt hat man die Hindernisse für das Wirtschaftswachstum überwunden. Regelmäßige politische Neuausrichtungen – die manchmal friedlich verliefen und manchmal nicht – haben dafür gesorgt, dass die überwiegende Mehrheit der Menschen profitierten, wenn auch manche mehr als andere.

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