7 Jul 2017
Opening Session: What Does Prosperity Mean Today?
It is difficult to give a universal, timeless definition of prosperity. The industrial revolution and the advent of capitalistic thinking linked prosperity with economic growth and the accumulation of wealth, while the GDP per capita has become the most commonly-used yardstick for measuring prosperity.
The exclusive use of economic indicators to measure prosperity is no longer unanimously accepted. Well-being and personal fulfilment are now crucial elements to be factored in. The rising GDP per capita has generated an increase in inequality, the ever-faster destruction of the environment, higher risks for individuals in the job market and growing financial instability. Many people now advocate replacing the GDP per capita with a range of development and “satisfaction” indicators incorporating these various elements.
Some argue that the idea of prosperity depends on a particular historical and geographical context. The representation of prosperity is not fixed in time and space, but reflects a state of harmony between reality and people’s hopes and expectations. The results of the latest large-scale popular votes in particular – Brexit, Donald Trump’s election, the victory of the “no” vote in Italy – bear witness to an increasing opposition to the established order, and a desire for isolation. Despite the presence of all the standard conditions for prosperity, peoples’ dissatisfaction has brought to light the contrast between popular perceptions and aspirations, and the advanced state of our societies. Is today’s prosperity the same as yesterday’s?
In this era of globalisation, characterised by increasingly open borders, growing trade flows and the internationalisation of production chains, can prosperity still be national? What are the major obstacles to prosperity? All in all, is a definition of prosperity based solely on economic criteria still relevant?
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THE RIGHT OF THE POOR TO BE RICH_Tony Meloto