Encyclopedia of Law and Economics

2019 Edition
| Editors: Alain Marciano, Giovanni Battista Ramello

Economic Growth

  • Maria Rosaria AlfanoEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-7753-2_49


Considering its quantitative property, economic growth has often been considered an index of wealth. Nonetheless, it does not represent the well-being of a given country. In fact, it lacks information on how this wealth is redistributed or on the indirect effects of the said production, such as environmental consequences. Economic literature highlights the difference between economic growth and development, attributing to the latter a holistic definition, which takes into account additional factors, such as collective well-being, social equity, life expectancy, quality of institutions, and environmental quality. Although, at a first glance, the boundaries between concepts of growth and development may be considered as clearly distinguishable, they often tend to disappear when analyzing the two variables from a long-term perspective. In both economic theory and practice, there are several significant variables, such as the quality of human capital and institutions or environmental efficiency, which play a key role in the opportunities for development in most high-income countries. Within this framework, development becomes a fundamental feature of economic growth, when the latter is interpreted as a general improvement in quality of life, as opposed to a mere quantitative increment in production.

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I thank Marco Bottone for helpful comment


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Economics DepartmentSeconda Università degli Studi di NapoliNaplesItaly