ECI students meet Kate Raworth at her book launch in Oxford, 4 April 2017
Kate Raworth believes that the economy can and should be re-designed for the 21st century:
"We are all the designers of the economy," she explains, "because the way that we shop and eat and travel, the way that we invest and divest, and protest. All [of these things] shape and reshape the economy."
Now, 70 years' on since the birth of neoliberalism, after the financial crisis of 2008, and in the context of today's challenges - rising global temperatures and rising global inequality – Raworth wants to make economics relevant again.
"Adam Smith wrote the book that defined the way we think about economics as the management of a nation... [and] we've been stuck there for 250 years looking at economics of the nation." It is time, she says, for us to look at ourselves as members of the planetary household.
With 25 years of working to end poverty under her belt (after an Oxford economics education, she has spent two decades working in policy at the UN and Oxfam) Kate Raworth has now drawn a new type of economics for the 21st century - and it looks doughnut shaped.
Her new book, Doughnut economics: Seven Ways to Think Like a 21st-Century Economist, written whilst on sabbatical at ECI, sets out a new vision for ‘planetary economics'.
Pictures, Raworth says, are crucial to helping us re-imagine the world. In line with this, her new book is "all about redrawing the pictures that are at the heart of economics".
Fig 1. Planetary and social boundaries: a safe and just space for humanity
In Raworth's new economic picture, she finds a ‘sweet spot' – the doughnut itself – between the outer ‘ecological ceiling' circle (symbolising the environmental limits of the planet that we live on) and the inner ‘social foundation' (setting out a baseline for human health and wellbeing). In an ideal world and economy, Raworth says we should work, produce, and trade within these boundaries.
This new economic picture has had George Monbiot of the Guardian hailing her as the John Maynard Keynes of the 21st century: "By reframing the economy, she allows us to change our view of who we are, where we stand, and what we want to be," he writes.
Raworth's book, launched in Oxford on 4 April 2017, comes hot on the heels of Trump and Brexit; a time when voting populations are looking for ‘alternatives' to the establishment. Raworth is optimistic for the future of economics, after a century or more of what she calls a "false ideology" that economic growth is inherently good.
Save the date: On 11 October 2017 Raworth will present these Big Ideas to ECI staff, students and members of the public. Book your space.
"It is a huge privilege for me to teach students at the Environmental Change Institute who I genuinely believe are the economists of the 21st century, because they are the household managers of the 21st century.".
Kate Raworth, Visiting Research Fellow, Tutor and Advisory Board member, Environmental Change Institute, University of Oxford