Introducing the Seven Ways

Version 1.0 (September 2020)

Overview


In the book Doughnut Economics: Seven Ways to Think Like a 21st-Century Economist, along with the core idea of the Doughnut, Kate Raworth offers these Seven Ways to transform our thinking and imagination, from the old economic thinking of the 20th century to the thinking we will need to guide us towards a new goal for humanity, that of the Doughnut, and of meeting the needs of all people within the means of the planet.

What you find here is a summary of each of these Seven Ways. The first summary is a one-page digram with all Seven Ways and  images associated with them all in one place. After this there are seven 90 second animations to capture the essence of each of the Seven Ways. These are accompanied with a short paragraph to explain each in a bit more detail, along with some discussion questions that could be used for a discussion topic, whether in a classroom, a bookclub or round the kitchen table.


Seven ways to think like a 21st-century economist


Seven ways to think like a 21st century economist



1. Change the goal: from GDP growth to the Doughnut


For over half a century, economists have fixated on GDP as the first measure of economic progress, but GDP is a false goal waiting to be ousted. The 21st century calls for a far more ambitious and global economic goal: meeting the needs of all within the means of the living planet. Draw that goal on the page and – odd though it sounds – it comes out looking like a doughnut. The challenge now is to create local to global economies that ensure that no one falls short on life’s essentials – from food and housing to healthcare and political voice – while safeguarding Earth’s life-supporting systems, from a stable climate and fertile soils to healthy oceans and a protective ozone layer. This single switch of purpose transforms the meaning and shape of economic progress: from endless growth to thriving in balance.

This content is hosted by a third party: YouTube (www.youtube.com). By clicking 'Show content' you confirm that you have read and agree to their Terms of service.

By clicking below you also consent to the creation of a cookie so we can remember your choice for one month. See our Privacy Notice for our full cookie policy.



Discussion questions:
  1. What is problematic about having GDP growth as the economic goal? 
  2. What do you think are the key factors that determine whether or not humanity can thrive within the Doughnut? (eg technology, inequality, population, governance…)


2. See the big picture: from self-contained market to embedded economy


In April 1947, an ambitious band of economists crafted a neoliberal story of the economy and, since Thatcher and Reagan came to power in the 1980s, it has dominated the international stage. Its narrative about the efficiency of the market, the incompetence of the state, the domesticity of the household and the tragedy of the commons, has helped to push many societies towards social and ecological collapse. It’s time to write a new economic story fit for this century – one that sees the economy’s dependence upon society and the living world. This story must recognize the power of the market—so let’s embed it wisely; the partnership of the state—so let’s hold it to account; the core role of the household—so let’s value its contribution; and the creativity of the commons—so let’s unleash their potential.

This content is hosted by a third party: YouTube (www.youtube.com). By clicking 'Show content' you confirm that you have read and agree to their Terms of service.

By clicking below you also consent to the creation of a cookie so we can remember your choice for one month. See our Privacy Notice for our full cookie policy.



Discussion questions:
  1. What role has the neoliberal story played in your country’s economy over the last 30 years? 
  2. What do you think are essential elements of a new economic story?


3. Nurture human nature: from rational economic man to social adaptable humans


The character at the heart of 20th century economics—‘rational economic man’—presents a pitiful portrait of humanity: he stands alone, with money in his hand, a calculator in his head, ego in his heart, and nature at his feet. Worse, when we are told that he is like us, we actually start to become more like him, to the detriment of our communities and the planet. But human nature is far richer than this, as emerging sketches of our new self-portrait reveal: we are reciprocating, interdependent, approximating people deeply embedded within the living world. It’s time to put this new portrait of humanity at the heart of economic theory so that economics can start to nurture the best of human nature. Doing so will give us—all ten billion of us to come—a far greater chance of thriving together.

This content is hosted by a third party: YouTube (www.youtube.com). By clicking 'Show content' you confirm that you have read and agree to their Terms of service.

By clicking below you also consent to the creation of a cookie so we can remember your choice for one month. See our Privacy Notice for our full cookie policy.



Discussion questions:
  1. What do you think should be the core characteristics of humanity in a 21st century economic model?
  2. If human behaviour is influenced by the models that we create of ourselves (ie the models are performative) then is it even useful to create such models of humanity in economic theory?
  3. How can economic policies best nurture human nature, to bring out humanity’s capacity for cooperation and mutual aid? What are some examples? 


4. Get savvy with systems: from mechanical equilibrium to dynamic complexity


Economics has long suffered from physics envy: awed by the genius of Isaac Newton and his insights into the physical laws of motion, 19th century economists became fixated on discovering economic laws of motion. But these simply don’t exist: they are mere models, just like the theory of market equilibrium which blinded economists to the looming financial crash of 2008. That’s why 21st-century economists embrace complexity and evolutionary thinking instead. Putting dynamic thinking at the heart of economics opens up new insights for understanding the rise of the one percent and the boom and bust of financial markets. It’s time to stop searching for the economy’s elusive control levers (they don’t exist), and instead start stewarding the economy as an ever-evolving system.

This content is hosted by a third party: YouTube (www.youtube.com). By clicking 'Show content' you confirm that you have read and agree to their Terms of service.

By clicking below you also consent to the creation of a cookie so we can remember your choice for one month. See our Privacy Notice for our full cookie policy.



Discussion questions: 
  1. Does it make sense to talk of ‘economic laws’? (think: laws of supply and demand, law of diminishing returns)
  2. What are some examples of tipping points and feedback loops in the economy? 
  3. If the economy is a complex system that can’t be controlled but only stewarded, what is the role of the economist? What are the skills required to be a good economist?


5. Design to distribute: from ‘growth will even it up again’ to distributive by design


In the 20th century economic theory whispered a powerful message when it comes to inequality: it has to get worse before it can get better, and growth will eventually even things up. But extreme inequality, as it turns out, is not an economic law or necessity: it is a design failure. Twenty-first century economists recognize that there are many ways to design economies to be far more distributive of value among those who help to generate it. And that means going beyond redistributing income to pre-distributing wealth, such as the wealth that lies in controlling land, enterprise, and the power to create money.

This content is hosted by a third party: YouTube (www.youtube.com). By clicking 'Show content' you confirm that you have read and agree to their Terms of service.

By clicking below you also consent to the creation of a cookie so we can remember your choice for one month. See our Privacy Notice for our full cookie policy.



Discussion questions: 
  1. What policies could make an economy distributive by design?
  2. What are some options for housing and land ownership?
  3. What are some options for money creation?
  4. What are some options for business ownership?
  5. Where are these kinds of policies in practice today?
  6. What are their effects and what challenges might they raise?


6. Create to regenerate: from ‘growth will clean it up again’ to regenerative by design


Economic theory has long portrayed a clean environment as a luxury good, affordable only for the well-off—a view that says that pollution has to increase before it can decline, and (guess what), growth will eventually clean it up. But as with inequality there is no such economic law: environmental degradation is the result of degenerative industrial design. This century calls for economic thinking that unleashes the potential of regenerative design in order to create a circular, not linear, economy—and to restore ourselves as full participants in Earth’s cyclical processes of life.

This content is hosted by a third party: YouTube (www.youtube.com). By clicking 'Show content' you confirm that you have read and agree to their Terms of service.

By clicking below you also consent to the creation of a cookie so we can remember your choice for one month. See our Privacy Notice for our full cookie policy.



Discussion question: 
  1. Why doesn’t growth clean up after itself? 
  2. What are the principles of a circular economy?
  3. What are the opportunities and challenges of creating circular economies?


7. Be Agnostic about Growth: from growth-addicted to growth-agnostic


To the alarm of governments and financiers, forecasts for GDP growth in many high-income countries are flat-lining, opening up a crisis in growth-based economics. Mainstream economics views endless GDP growth as a must, but nothing in nature grows forever, and the economic attempt to buck that trend is raising tough questions in high-income but low-growth countries. That’s because today we have economies that need to grow, whether or not they make us thrive. What we need are economies that make us thrive, whether or not they grow. That radical flip in perspective invites us to become agnostic about growth and to explore how our economies—which are currently financially, politically and socially addicted to growth—could learn to live with or without it.

This content is hosted by a third party: YouTube (www.youtube.com). By clicking 'Show content' you confirm that you have read and agree to their Terms of service.

By clicking below you also consent to the creation of a cookie so we can remember your choice for one month. See our Privacy Notice for our full cookie policy.



Discussion questions:
  1. How are economies currently dependent upon endless growth (financially, politically, socially)?
  2. Is it possible for an economy to become agnostic about growth?
  3. Should GDP be measured at all? 


Bonus videos


And now... It's Time for Planetary Economics


This content is hosted by a third party: YouTube (www.youtube.com). By clicking 'Show content' you confirm that you have read and agree to their Terms of service.

By clicking below you also consent to the creation of a cookie so we can remember your choice for one month. See our Privacy Notice for our full cookie policy.



The making of the Seven Ways to Think animations


This content is hosted by a third party: YouTube (www.youtube.com). By clicking 'Show content' you confirm that you have read and agree to their Terms of service.

By clicking below you also consent to the creation of a cookie so we can remember your choice for one month. See our Privacy Notice for our full cookie policy.

Who's using this tool?

Subscribe to DEAL's newsletter