The value of awareness: could mindfulness underpin a more adaptable and sustainable economy? 

Any viable economic strategy for the 2020s and 2030s must address two fundamental challenges: the state of environmental degradation, firstly, and handling the pace of technological change. A wise response may require us to place our distinctly human capacities at the centre of our economic thinking. But how?

This Discussion Paper, written by former Bank of England economist, Dan Nixon, considers what an increase in the overall 'level' of mindfulness across the UK population would mean for the economy. Such an uplift, we argue, could support the development of precisely those human capacities that we currently need most of all: our attentional skills, our ability to think creatively, our capacity to empathise. As a result, we might expect to see a more productive, more adaptable economy. At the same time, an increase in the overall level of mindfulness could support a shift towards more sustainable consumption behaviours, perhaps even resulting in a lower economic growth rate in the long-run. The paper explains why such a shift would signal good news, both from the perspective of humans and the environment.

Given this unusual combination of outcomes, and the particular challenges that we currently face, perhaps mindfulness deserves consideration as part of a long-run economic strategy?

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