Britain lacks a "national will" to improve its economy because people are too rich, former deputy prime minister Lord Heseltine has suggested.
The Conservative grandee questioned whether people who live comfortably in advanced economies are motivated to strive for better.
However in economies such as China and India, which are growing at a much faster rate than Britain, people are driven to overcome "real problems".
In an interview with The Independent, Lord Heseltine warned that the economy could keep drifting down.
He told the newspaper: "There is no God-given rule saying you've got to have a well-performing economy. It could be an indifferent economy.
"It's a question of whether the national will is there; whether we want it. And the richer you get the less imperative there is.
"Maybe one of the problems of advanced economies is that people are sufficiently well off that they don't need to drive themselves any more."
He later added that it is in the nature of most people to "desire to do something and to do it better".
He also questioned official GDP statistics and instead pointed to rising employment and house prices as indicators that the economy was recovering.
Lord Heseltine is a senior adviser to the coalition Government on growth, focusing especially on the regeneration of cities.