What is Doughnut Economics?

Kate Raworth’s TED talk – A great dose of inspiration and a grounding in doughnut economics.

Doughnut Economics is a way of thinking about how humanity can thrive in the 21st Century, a time of major environmental and social change. The model is a way of describing the safe and just space that societies should aim to live within, where people have what they need for a happy and healthy life (such as food, housing and income), whilst respecting the systems which sustain all life on Earth.

The doughnut creates a safe space for us all to thrive

By adding in how much pressure we are putting on the planet and how society’s basic needs are not being met (the red wedges outside and within the doughnut below) we can also create a strong visual image of the health of the whole system.

So how do we get humanity into that sweet spot? We can start thinking like a 21st Century economist. This means changing the narrative from GDP and fossil fuel-led growth to an economy which is regenerative and distributive by design. But perhaps the first hurdle is to reframe economics. Many of us feel daunted by the concept, even though it is present in our everyday lives. For example, the unpaid work (often carried out by women) in taking care of our homes, family or community is not taken into account by mainstream economics, even though it is at the core of what makes waged labour at all possible. This is ironic because the original meaning of the word economics is ‘the art of household management’. So we need to consider and value how we care for our personal households and wider communities, as well as how we can look after and be stewards of the planet.

“When Adam Smith, extolling the power of the market, noted that, ‘it is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner’, he forgot to mention the benevolence of his mother, Margaret Douglas, who had raised her boy alone from birth. Smith never married so had no wife to rely upon (nor children of his own to raise). At the age of 43, as he began to write his opus, ‘The Wealth of Nations’, he moved back in with his cherished old mum, from whom he could expect his dinner every day. But her role in it all never got a mention in his economic theory, and it subsequently remained invisble for centuries.”

Kate Raworth, Doughnut Economics, pp78-79
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