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Skip to 0 minutes and 13 seconds I mean, both of you– hearing your different points of view on this– and, I mean, there’s many areas of agreement– but hearing the different points of view reminds me that this is a social science, economics, and lots of what we’ve talked about isn’t settled. It’s still being contested. We’re jumping forward on the basis of historical experience. We’ve got a whole bunch of assumptions about what might happen. Can I invite you to reflect on that maybe? Sure. Well, you’re absolutely right. Economics is a social science. It’s not like the physics laboratory. If I drop a pen on the floor, I know exactly how long it’s going to take to hit the floor. I can repeat the experiment.

Skip to 0 minutes and 52 seconds There’ll be a 100% consensus among physicists around the world in the answer. But the social laboratory’s not like that. And so it is true that people can have different views on this. It’s just that my position is that 200 years of history, it’s a pretty safe bet that the next 10 years and 20 years won’t be a lot different. Are there any guarantees? No. But is it a very safe bet? Yes. Fabrizio? Who takes a longer temporal view of this, the 300-year window. Well, first of all, I would like to agree on the fact that economics as a social science is exciting and beautiful because we can have different opinions.

Skip to 1 minute and 38 seconds Yes, sometimes we might wonder, why are we still addressing the same questions that Adam Smith, the father of modern economics, was addressing 300 years ago? I do believe that we have given some good answers over the last 300 years, and one of these answers is that history must be considered in a longer term perspective. And we can’t just simply assume that history will repeat itself, because we need to have– to understand the drivers. And when we look at the drivers of the innovation and growth over the last 300 years, we see that, well, they’re not necessarily going to be around in the next 50 years or so.

Skip to 2 minutes and 18 seconds And this is probably what is driving the difference between me and Ross in this sense. Well, I think there might be some values and assumptions underlying some differences there too. And of course, that’s appropriate. Concluding remarks. Don’t feel too sorry for the next generation. They will have more goods and services. They will have better quality goods and services than the current generation, on average. Fabrizio? I would like to conclude with a bit of optimism on my part. If you want to look for the fourth Industrial Revolution, in my opinion, you should look into green technologies. This will guarantee that economic growth can continue to be sustainable and inclusive.

Skip to 3 minutes and 3 seconds That, in my opinion, is the challenge for the world population going forward in the next 50 years. It seems to me that whole piece around inclusivity and sharing the benefits is something that’s really occupying the international organisations now in a way that it hasn’t been. Very true. Right. So that concludes the debate. That’s our experts’ view on whether the next generation will be better or worse off. But we’re really interested in your view about how this is going to apply, and you might discuss these things around your own kitchen table. You can be sure of one thing. These intergenerational debates are going to be front and centre in politics globally and in the lives of ordinary people around Australia.

Skip to 3 minutes and 41 seconds So we hope you’ve enjoyed it, and we look forward to hearing your feedback.

Debate Part 3: Concluding thoughts

The Professors agree to disagree. What will you decide?

As our Professors point out, economics is a social science, which means people will have different views. Let’s hear how the debate concludes.

As Ross sees it…

With history on our side, Ross considers future prosperity a “safe bet”. While he acknowledges there aren’t any guarantees, he advises against feeling too sorry for the next generation. Ross argues they will have more (and higher quality) goods and services than we currently have.

As Fabrizio sees it…

Fabrizio argues we cannot assume history will repeat itself and when we look at the drivers of innovation and growth, we can’t assume they will continue as before. On a more positive note, Fabrizio suggests a fourth industrial revolution born from green technology offers a challenging, but sustainable hope for the future.

Your task

Watch the final instalment of the debate and click on the comments link below to post your opinion.

What are you thoughts on the possibility and benefits of a fourth industrial revolution, centered on green technology?

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Exploring Economics: Will the Next Generation Be Worse Off?

Griffith University