High-leverage ways to speed up economic growth
Our overall view
We’d love to see more people working on this issue. But you might be able to do even more good working on one of our top priority problem areas.
Table of Contents
Why might economic growth be a pressing issue?
Speeding up economic growth doesn’t seem as useful as more targeted ways to improve the future, and in general we favour differential development.
However, speeding up growth might still have large benefits, both for improving short-term and long-term welfare, and perhaps also for reducing existential threats.
The causes of growth already see considerable research within economics, though this area is still more neglected than many topics.
Which ways to increase economic growth seem especially promising?
Potential strategies for increasing growth include trade reform (which also has the potential to reduce conflict), immigration reform, land use reform, and increasing aid spending and effectiveness.
Institutional quality also seems to play a large role in development, so if there were a way to make improvements to institutions in developing countries, this could be an effective way to improve many people’s lives.
For instance, legal and political changes in China seem to have been key to its economic development from the 1980s onwards. For a discussion of the importance of governing institutions for economic growth, see our interview with a group trying to found cities with improved legal infrastructure in the developing world.
(Keep in mind, however, these efforts are often best pursued by citizens of the relevant countries. There is also substantial disagreement about which institutions are best, and the answers will vary depending on a country’s circumstances and culture.)
A new field that might be especially promising to work in is progress studies, which investigates the causes of economic, technological, scientific, cultural, and organisational advancement.
Learn more about economic growth as a cause area
- Prof Tyler Cowen’s stubborn attachments to maximising economic growth, making civilization more stable, and respecting human rights
- A list of resources on progress studies
Read next: Explore other pressing world problems
Want to learn more about global issues we think are especially pressing? See our list of issues that are large in scale, solvable, and neglected, according to our research.
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