It appears that the consensus in contemporary economics is that GDP growth is a good thing. Lets say, theoretically, that everyone in society has all their needs met, the population is no longer growing, GDP has leveled off and everyone is content. While this may be true for now, are there any views in which stabilized GDP can be a good thing.? Also, are there any theories on how an economy can prosper in the face of stabilized population growth or negative population growth (such as in Japan)?
The basic argument these days for a stable or even falling GDP comes from environmentalists who point out that because the GDP calculations omit discussion or calculation of the ecological damages entailed by GDP growth, if one adds such considerations it becomes easy to show how and why steady ir falling GDP can be a very desirable way to save the planet, etc.
Likewise the strongest arguments about how an economy could "prosper" (to use your term) in the face of stabilized population or stabilized GDP or declining population are these: (1) that redistributing income (in various ways) and/or wealth could achieve that result, and (2) that reorganizing human relations and interactions in the workplace and work processes could do that too.
There is a growing body of opinion that the economics profession and therefore much public discussion has fetishized GDP data and thereby missed much about economic life that is not counted in GDP calculations and yet affects our lives in multiple ways and shapes even the size and rate of change of GDP.
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