You'll own nothing and be happy

"You'll own nothing and you'll be happy" (alternatively "you'll own nothing and be happy") is a phrase originating in a 2016 video by the World Economic Forum (WEF), summarising an essay written by Danish politician Ida Auken. The phrase has been used by critics who accuse the WEF of desiring restrictions on ownership of private property. The phrase has also been used by critics of the subscription business model, and software as a service.



Auken had previously written in 2014 about a hackathon at the WEF that proposed "FridgeFlix", a startup that would allow users to lease all of their household appliances from a provider that would also service and upgrade these appliances. The proposed company would reduce the risk of residents incurring costly repairs and would work with energy suppliers to reduce power consumption of appliances.[1]

In 2016, Auken published an essay originally titled "Welcome to 2030. I own nothing, have no privacy, and life has never been better",[2] later retitled "Here's how life could change in my city by the year 2030", on the WEF's official web site. It described life in an unnamed city in which the narrator does not own a car, a house, any appliances, or any clothes, and instead relies on shared services for all of his daily needs. Auken later added an author's note to the story responding to critics, stating that it is not her "utopia or dream of the future", and that she intended for the essay to start discussions about technological development.[3]

Contemporary reaction


The WEF published an article and a video[4] in 2016 based in part on Auken's essay. Social media users shared a frame from the video, depicting an unidentified man smiling with a digital on-screen graphic reading "You'll own nothing. And you'll be happy" superimposed, adding criticism of Auken's views. The WEF clarified that it has no stated goal to have individuals "own nothing and be happy", and that its Agenda 2030 framework includes individual ownership and control over private property.[5]

In 2017, a writer for The Independent described Auken's essay as being in line with the principles of the sharing economy, noting that the United Kingdom already had online services to allow users to share property, storage space, cars, designer apparel, tools, and other expensive items. A cofounder of Fat Lama, a rental web site, observed that people who buy expensive items like DSLR cameras and drones opt for more expensive, higher-end models so that they can rent them out to recoup their costs.[6]

Also in 2017, a commentator for European Digital Rights (EDRi) described Auken's article as "chilling" and "dystopian". EDRi criticized Auken's vision of centralized property ownership as a "benevolent dictatorship".[7]

Reaction during COVID pandemic


Although Auken's essay was published more than three years before the COVID-19 pandemic, the phrase gained currency among critics of the WEF after the organization announced the Great Reset initiative for global economic recovery after the pandemic.[8] In 2023, Jim Geraghty wrote in National Review, referring to the WEF, "Very few of us see owning our own homes, owning our own cars, and owning our own clothes as a major problem to be solved, the sort of crisis that requires Danish legislators and global business elites to gather and come up with a plan to rescue us."[9]

A Reuters fact check noted that claims about the WEF have been conflated with criticism of the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals, which include a goal making property ownership available to all by 2030.[5]


  1. ^ Auken, Ida (September 24, 2014). "We have TV on demand, why not household appliances?". The Guardian. Archived from the original on March 19, 2023. Retrieved March 19, 2023.
  2. ^ Auken, Ida (2016-11-25). "Welcome to 2030. I own nothing, have no privacy, and life has never been better". World Economic Forum. Archived from the original on 2016-11-25. Retrieved 2021-09-20.
  3. ^ Auken, Ida. "Here's how life could change in my city by the year 2030". World Economic Forum. Archived from the original on March 19, 2021. Retrieved March 19, 2023.
  4. ^ "8 predictions for the world in 2030". twitter. World Economic Forum. Archived from the original on 2023-03-16. Retrieved 2023-04-12.
  5. ^ a b "Fact check: The World Economic Forum does not have a stated goal to have people own nothing by 2030". Reuters. February 25, 2021. Archived from the original on May 25, 2022. Retrieved March 19, 2023.
  6. ^ Hannah, Felicity (March 3, 2017). "Why you'll own nothing by 2030". The Independent. Archived from the original on March 19, 2023. Retrieved March 19, 2023.
  7. ^ McNamee, Joe. "ENDitorial: Happiness – owning nothing and having no privacy?". European Digital Rights (EDRi). Archived from the original on 2023-05-29. Retrieved 2023-03-19.
  8. ^ Bronitsky, Jonathan (November 1, 2022). "Global Elites: 'No Money, No Problems'". Newsweek. Archived from the original on August 11, 2023. Retrieved March 19, 2023.
  9. ^ Geraghty, Jim (January 17, 2023). "Davos Elites Try to Save the World while Ignoring Actual Threats". National Review. Archived from the original on August 2, 2023. Retrieved March 19, 2023.