Every once and a while some of my friends and I have the discussion: Is social growth equal to economic growth? My argument is always yes, but our discussion is always lively and the other side always has a strong opinion and sometimes I have second thoughts.
My view is that economic growth (and of course energy growth) is closely linked to the advancement of technology that will allow cleaner water, better drugs (as in the ones that fight disease), new and better hospitals and better ways to communicate. Technology also works to reduce the price of these items and make them more accesible to everybody.
The other side of the argument though is that growth always comes at the expense of others. For instance, the life that the developed world has come to enjoy wouldn't be possible without the undeveloped world. Also, growth is by definition not sustainable in a finite bubble such as the Earth and so ultimately, growth will destroy society.
I think that technology can be used to improve the life of everybody though. For example, a better way to clean and pump water isn't required by the developed world but is needed by the undeveloped world. Technology improvements go to make those water purification systems cheaper and a side effect of technology advancement is economic growth.
These discussions never have a clear answer, but it's important to think about these things.