James Williams (Greycourt School) reviews Kate Raworth's 'Doughnut Economics'

In Doughnut Economics, Kate Raworth paints a complete overview of how to thrive in the 21st century economy with a new style of thinking. Much of the book is focused on the greatest challenge of our time: how to positively impact our environment. Most significantly, however, it takes a holistic approach to maintaining not just a balanced economy, but a balanced world.

This holistic way of approaching economics is shown in the book's core concept, the doughnut. The doughnut is an intuitive diagram that demonstrates the challenges of meeting people’s needs and wants (represented by the doughnut’s inner ring) while not overreaching the Earth’s scarce resources (represented by the doughnut’s outer ring). This seems like the basic function of economic activity, but due to misunderstandings of the economy, the natural world, and human nature, modern economics has led to more harm than good. Fortunately, the doughnut and 6 other shifts in economic thinking show exactly how to turn this around.

Beginning with the doughnut, the aim of the book appears to be to find alternatives to the various unrealistic assumptions in economics such as infinite GDP growth, the rational human (Homo economicus) and the environmental Kuznets curve, among others. By exploring these alternatives - after opening people’s eyes to the drawbacks of the ‘old’ way of thinking - Raworth succeeds in redefining economics and showing readers the possibilities that lie in this new paradigm.

My takeaway from the book is this; the world is currently facing major issues but economics provides a way to solve many of these problems. As a result, people need to adapt to these situations by unlearning old economic models and picking up new ones, which is why I believe anyone interested in surviving the challenges of the 21st century should read this book.

Something I agreed with in this book was...

The emphasis on holistic and systems thinking to solve the world’s issues.

Something I disagreed with in this book was...

The theoretical nature of it’s suggestions, rather than offering tangible shifts each of us can make to help the economy and environment.

Something I learnt from reading this book that I didn't know about this subject before was...

That economists, in trying to make the subject more scientific, created the unrealistic models and assumptions that are well known today, and that is why economic models rarely resemble the real world.