EventsChange in ­Awareness

Change in ­Awareness

Meinhard Miegel

Denkwerk Zukunft, Bonn

Event from
13 December
Photo by Meinhard Miegel



The consumption of goods and services is a cornerstone of all economic activity. This is why for a long time the great majority of the population understood prosperity to be the ability to consume. But it is gradually becoming ­apparent that mass consumption creates problems because no economically developed country is still living within the Earth’s ecological limits. That means, however, that the prosperity of all of these countries is based primarily on an overexploitation of the environment, our shared world and future generations. Therefore, a further increase in the volume of goods should not still be our aim but instead a conscious lifestyle, a love of nature, pleasure in beautiful things and not least solidarity with and service to the community. 

For instance, towns and municipalities will have to face greater challenges in future than to date: increasingly aging and often declining populations, the ­integration of large numbers of immigrants, climate change, rising energy prices, accelerated economic change and much more. At the same time they will ­have less and less financial leeway due to the decline in economic growth. Greater citizen’s participation and consciously aesthetic buildings could prevent less material prosperity also creating a loss in the quality of life. 


Does prosperity need growth? Meinhard Miegel, one of Germany‘s most influential social scientists, answered this question and made suggestions in this context. 

Meinhard Miegel

The legal expert and social scientist Meinhard Miegel published several works on the subject of “demographic change” such as the bestseller in 2002: “Die deformierte Gesellschaft” (The Deformed Society) or eight years later: “Exit – Wohlstand ohne Wachstum” (Exit – Prosperity without Growth) as a contribution to the problems entailed in growth. Only recently, a memorandum was published by Denkwerk Zukunft: “Lebenswerte Städte unter Bedingungen sinkenden materiellen Wohlstands – Herausforderungen und Maßnahmen” (Liveable Cities in Conditions of Declining Material Prosperity – Challenges and Measures”). Meinhard Miegel is the chairman of the Board of the foundation Denkwerk Zukunft and since 2011 has been a member of the Study Commission “Growth, Wellbeing and Quality of Life” of the German Bundestag.