The Crises In Employment, Consumption, Economic Growth, and the Environment: Could a Shorter Workweek and a Greener Economy Provide Relief?


MIT SDM Systems Thinking Webinar SeriesNicholas A. Ashford, PhD

Nicholas A. Ashford, PhD., JD
Professor of Technology and Policy, MIT; Director, MIT Technology and Law Program

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Date: March 11, 2013

About the Presentation

The crises we encounter today could be described as a ‘perfect storm.’ The global financial crisis that began in 2008 has left many people with too little money and/or willingness to spend. This results in too few goods and services being produced and too little being purchased. This in turn exacerbates unemployment and underemployment. As a result, a vicious circle is created in which less money is spent in consumption and in investment in subsequent and repeated cycles, further worsening the crisis in consumption. On the other hand, some people and economic actors consume too much from an energy and resource perspective, exacerbating environmental problems. Two solutions are frequently suggested to the present crises: spread work out through a shorter workweek and green the economy. An analysis of the likelihood of success of each is the focus of this presentation. Insights from a recent book: Technology, Globalization, and Sustainable Development: Transforming the Industrial State (2011, Yale University Press) will inform the presentation.

About the Speaker

Nicholas Ashford holds both a Ph.D. in Chemistry and a law degree from the University of Chicago, where he also received graduate education in economics. His courses, jointly listed with ESD/Engineering, the Sloan School, and Urban Studies, draw students from across the Institute and he has supervised graduate theses in the TPP, SDM, and ESD programs. In addition to his recent book, he has co-authored Environmental Law, Policy and Economics: Reclaiming the Environmental Agenda and has published six additional books and several hundred articles in peer-reviewed journals and law reviews.

About the Series

The MIT System Design and Management Program Systems Thinking Webinar Series features research conducted by SDM faculty, alumni, students, and industry partners. The series is designed to disseminate information on how to employ systems thinking to address engineering, management, and socio-political components of complex challenges.