The core objective of Australia’s economic policy is growth. The world has seen unprecedented GDP growth over the last half century and Australia has been a beneficiary of this. But how realistic is it that GDP can grow year on year, apparently forever? In this article the question is addressed by examining recent and projected trends in population and GDP at the global scale, in Australia and in China. If population growth rates continue to decline, then global GDP growth rates must also continue to steadily fall over the long term as poorer countries become richer, and GDP per capita converges. Achieving a steady-state economy and improving how income is distributed is a more important and achievable objective than hoping and praying GDP goes up forever.

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