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Max Koch. Foto: Johan Persson.

Max Koch


Max Koch. Foto: Johan Persson.

Maximum limits on incomes and wealth


  • Hubert Buch-Hansen
  • Max Koch

Summary, in English

Since Herman Daly’s original writings, growth-critical scholarship has frequently referred to the policy tools of minimum income schemes and maximum limits on incomes and wealth to tackle social inequality in a degrowth transition. However, while there is a broad discussion of minimum income schemes within the degrowth research community and beyond, not much has been produced on maximum limits on income and wealth – neither in relation to a conceptual/theoretical approach to understand and motivate such limits, nor in terms of concrete policy proposals at national or transnational levels. This paper sets out to contribute to fill this gap in research by proposing a theoretical approach towards defining maximum income levels based on a human needs approach (Koch/Buch-Hansen/Fritz 2017). We first seek to define the lowest amount of resources needed for any individual to participate meaningfully in society. Second, we attempt to define an upper limit for income and wealth in terms of an ‘affluence line’ (Concialdi 2017), the amount of resources above which any extra resource appropriated by some individuals would prevent other members from minimally participating in society. Third, we review the existing economic and social science literature on maximum incomes in relation to indicators of how such an upper limit may be operationalized at national and European levels. Here, we will particularly consider theories of incremental institutional change, which open up for the possibility that maximum income levels may be set differently and different policy tools may be applied in different countries (Buch-Hansen 2014).


  • School of Social Work

Publishing year




Document type

Conference paper: abstract


  • Social Work

Conference name

6th International Degrowth Conference

Conference date

2018-08-21 - 2018-08-25

Conference place

Malmö, Sweden