The Covid-19 pandemic requires societies to make critical choices about the type of economies countries want to rebuild and change the way the current levers of economic structure work, a new report released on Tuesday said.
Commissioned by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and written by Sheffield University professor Michael Jacobs, the pandemic is said to have posed serious challenges, coming to the forefront of the financial crisis, climate change and inequalities of the last decade.
Governments need to change the way the economy operates on the eve of the pandemic, the report said, based on the contributions of an international advisory group, urging countries to go “beyond growth” and radically reorient economic policy.
The report warned that the prevailing patterns of economic growth in OECD countries have generated ‘significant damage’ in recent decades – including rising inequality and catastrophic environmental degradation.
He called for a paradigm shift in the way developed countries approach economic policy – so that instead of focusing on gross domestic product (GDP), they prioritize environmental sustainability, improving well-being, reducing inequality. and strengthening economic sustainability.
These goals should be built into the structures of the economy from the beginning, rather than hoped for as a by-product, or added after the event, she said.
The report argued that this would require a new role for the state, with governments becoming more entrepreneurial, seeking to shape markets and lead the process of economic change, not merely correcting market failures.
This “new kind of social contract” would transform the relationship between the state, business, civil society and citizens, the report said, entitled “Beyond Growth: Towards a New Economic Approach”.
Jacobs said: “The Covid-19 crisis should lead to a major reshuffle in economic policy. Before the crisis, Western economies were already experiencing financial instability, environmental degradation and rising inequality, so a return to the status quo would be catastrophic. “
“Just as the great economic crises of the 1940s and 1980s shifted the paradigm shift in economic thinking and policy, so today we need to rethink how we define and measure economic success. “While governments are spending unprecedented amounts to rebuild their economies after the pandemic, they need to look beyond growth just to prioritize the needs of people and the planet,” he added.
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