Whose Economy? Winners and Losers in the New Scottish Economy
Many Scots face a life characterised by high mortality, economic inactivity, mental and physical ill-health, poor educational attainment, and increasing exclusion. But anti-poverty policy in Scotland (and the UK) has tended to prioritise only narrow economic growth policies, emphasising employment and physical regeneration, not social goals such as community cohesion, strong relationships between people, a sense of empowerment, and sustainability.
Such economic growth and regeneration strategies have not reduced poverty and inequality in Scotland, and anti-poverty policies have, in some cases, made things worse rather than better. But Oxfam believes that it is possible to overcome poverty. As the sixth richest country in the world we certainly have adequate resources to do so. It’s about allocating those resources in a more effective and sustainable way.
In Whose Economy? Oxfam is therefore starting to explore the context that makes the need for a new economic development model for Scotland apparent – a model that would share the benefits of growth fairly, create high quality, sustainable jobs for those who can work while protecting those who can’t, and prioritise social goals such as cohesion, strong communities, and empowerment.
Oxfam raises the following questions, based on evidence in the Whose Economy? paper, as a starting point for further discussion:
Change the model? Do we need to change our model of economic development? The current emphasis on consumption-led growth has not benefited the poorest and most vulnerable people in society, and pays little heed to its impact on the environment, communities, and relationships.
Promote equality and community development? Inequality exacerbates poverty and undermines cohesive communities. Equality is vital in reversing the status competition and materialism that intensifies the stigmatisation of people experiencing poverty and their associated debt, stress, and mental health problems.
Promote sustainability?Does a serious attempt to become a truly sustainable society require reappraisal of the existing basis of Scotland’s economy, with a shift in focus from consumption and disposal, to a creative use of resources that involves both decreased demand and significant recycling and reuse?
Secure quality jobs in sustainable industries?Where neo-liberal economic transformation has created structural unemployment, are sustainable alternatives required to provide jobs for people in occupations that enhance, rather than destroy, the environment.
Do we need to measure real prosperity, not simply narrow growth? Reappraising the structure and goals of our economy requires appropriate measures of progress and success. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is insufficient to measure changes in sustainability, equality, and quality of life. A nuanced and more representative measure of progress is vital in recording and examining our shift to an equitable, green economy.
- Posted by: Katherine Trebeck at 4:27pm on 5 April 2011
- Website: www.oxfam.org.uk/resources/policy/right_heard/whose-economy-winners-losers-scottish-economy
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