The Doughnut is a visual representation of the bounds of human existence: the social foundation needed for wellbeing, below which no-one should fall, and the ecological ceilings of planetary limits which we should not exceed. Raworth argues that if our 21st century goal is to live inside the Doughnut, we need to relearn economics, using the insights and practices at the cutting edge of new economic thinking.
Many of the ideas which Raworth presents are not in themselves new—from GDP to wellbeing, from ‘externalities’ to the embedded economy, co-operatives, the commons and Green Quantitative Easing—but she weaves them together into a cogent whole. Every element of this whole is vivid. GDP is the cuckoo in the nest of economics, the embedded economy is depicted as a theatrical production, and Thomas Piketty is explained more clearly in one paragraph than Piketty himself managed in 700-odd pages.
The most powerful moments of Doughnut Economics occur when Raworth addresses deep-seated beliefs about the economy head-on. Inequality is not an inevitable outcome of economic laws of nature; it is a design failure, and we can and should design it out of the system. Rational, autonomous homo economicus is a myth; humans are inherently interdependent, shaped by social norms, and embedded in the natural world. The household is core to the economy, and must be valued as essential both to human wellbeing and the functioning of wider society.