Skip to main content

Doughnut-Shaped Recovery

The UK's Path to a Doughnut-Shaped Recovery

Fears about the consequences of constraining GDP have impeded our containment of the Coronavirus, just as they have impeded effective climate policy. These fears are understandable, because our economy is currently dependent on growth to maintain economic and political stability. But our growth dependency is not inevitable.

In our report, entitled The UK's Path to a Doughnut-Shaped Recovery, we outline four strategies that would improve society’s resilience in the face of slowing growth and economic shocks. These strategies, which are guided by the Doughnut of social and planetary boundaries, would help the UK transition to an economy that meets the needs of all people within the means of our living planet.

Executive Summary cover Read the Executive Summary of The UK's Path to a Doughnut-Shaped Recovery
Full report cover Read the Full Report of The UK's Path to a Doughnut-Shaped Recovery

By reducing our economy's growth dependence, we give policymakers the freedom and confidence to respond decisively to public health emergencies, and to introduce tough environmental protections in line with planetary boundaries. Concretely, we propose four strategies:

    1. Safeguard basic needs, by strengthening the social security net and expanding access to free basic services
    2. Empower and protect workers, to make working-time reduction a feasible solution to the threat of unemployment
    3. Reduce our exposure to debt crises, to help achieve economic stability
    4. Tackle rent extraction, to prevent rising inequality


Four parallel strategies for a Doughnut-shaped recovery.

Unfortunately, the Covid-19 crisis is on track to strengthen the power of rentiers, weaken the power of workers, and leave many households and businesses saddled with debt. Without a dramatic shift in policy, the pandemic will exacerbate many aspects of our growth dependence. But we still have a chance to break with the trends of the past, and demand a Doughnut-shaped recovery that puts us on the path to meet the foremost challenge of the 21st century: achieving a good life for all within planetary boundaries.

Read and download the full report, and please cite as follows:

This report was made possible through a collaboration between the University of Leeds, Doughnut Economics Action Lab, and Wellbeing Economy Alliance, with funding from Research England’s Strategic Priorities Fund and an ESRC Impact Acceleration Account awarded through the Leeds Social Sciences Institute.